MLS Snapshot: Philadelphia Union 2-2 New York Red Bulls

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One game, 100 words (or less): Delayed over an hour by a soggy field, Philadelphia and New York saw a chance-free first half blown open when Ethan White pulled down Peguy Luyindula in the penalty area. The conversion sparked a minor explosion, with goals from Thierry Henry and Pedro Ribeiro turning a sleepy affair into a 2-1 game at intermission.

As Jim Curtin began putting his regulars on the field, the Union were able to generate point blank chances for Ribeiro and Maurice Edu. While big stops from Jamison Olave and Luis Robles preserved New York’s lead, a stoppage time whistle from Allen Chapman allowed Sebastian Le Toux to equalize from the spot.

Coming back from two one-goal deficits, a Philadelphia team already looking toward Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup Final was able to preserve a point at home. New York missed its chance to take full points from a half-strength Union lineup.

Goals

Philadelphia: Ribeiro 41′, Le Toux 92′
New York: Luyindula 36′, Henry 40′

Three moments that mattered:

-64′ – The big pause – When Philadelphia announced a lineup that had five changes from the team that won in Toronto a week ago, U.S. Open Cup prep looked like the big pre-match story. Instead, it was the condition of PPL Park’s field, deemed too waterlogged to allowed for the game’s 3:21 p.m. ET kickoff. Just over an hour later, after the grounds crew had alleviated most of the puddles, the game finally began, albeit with areas of the pitch nearly stopping the ball.

36′ – Floodgates open – Allen Chapman’s 35th minute call on White was a generous one, but even though the foul is often overlooked, the official felt White’s infringement was enough to justify the whistle. Over the next five minutes, after Luyindula’s conversion, Henry’s 19-yard one-timer, and Ribeiro’s close range poke, the dour game that reached the half’s last 10 minutes scoreless had given us three goals. Puddles or not, this game was going to have goals.

90+1′ -One whistle shall save them – New York was minutes from seeing out its victory when a ball over the top, between Robles and defender Ibrahim Sekagya, became a chance for Ribeiro’s second. Yet as the Union forward went to strike his shot from seven yards out, Sekagya made a stab for the ball, either making contact with Ribeiro or blocking the potential equalizer. From Chapman’s point of view, it was the former, allowing Le Toux’s conversion into the left of goal to preserve a point for the Union.

Lineups:

Philadelphia: MacMath; Gaddis, White, Edu, Fabinho; Okugo, Carroll (Nogueira 70′); Cruz (Le Toux 48′), Fred (Maidana 61′), Wenger, Ribeiro
New York: Robles; Duvall, Olave, Sekagya, Armando; Alexander, McCarty; Sam, Luyindula, Henry (Bover 55′); Cahill (Sene 75′)

Three lessons going forward:

1. Silverware is important – Obviously, but today gave us a measure of that perspective. From one point of view, today’s game was a playoff six-pointer, with New York and Philadelphia straddling theline at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. From another (apparently, Jim Curtin’s) point of view, it was just the game before a cup final.

2. Cahill up top – A hamstring ailment meant Bradley Wright-Phillips wasn’t in Mike Petke’s 18, leaving Tim Cahill to start up top in New York’s new 4-2-3-1 – a similar role to how he’s employed for Australia. For New York, however, he’s always been better in a deeper role, meaning Luyindula’s time may be at stake when the team’s at full strength. On Saturday, Cahill was largely a non-factor, though some moments of excitement on the counter brought him back into the game.

3. Olave stepping up – The veteran center back earned plaudits for his performance last week against Sporting, but he was even more active today. Although he (along with Chris Duvall) played a part on a Maurice Edu chance that nearly evened the match, Olave’s more noteworthy contributions were ranging back toward his goal, using his speed to deny chances as Philadelphia tried to play over the New York defense. At the right time, the former Best XI defender is recapturing his 2013 form, with his second half stop on Ribeiro at the edge of his six-yard box helping New York preserve its result.

Where this leaves them:

  • On 34 points, Philadelphia inches into fifth place, though a Columbus result at Houston means the Union will relinquish that spot.
  • Though New York had a chance to move into third (albeit temporarily), the Red Bulls are up to 38 points, guaranteeing they’ll stay in the East’s top five through the weekend.