The game in 100 words (or less): The Eastern Conference portion of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs are going to be absolutely delightful, if Saturday night’s non-stop, back-and-forth battle between the New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union is any indication. Each side held a lead at one point or another in this one, and each side continued to press in search of two-goal lead, which meant plenty of chances going back the other way. Fabian Herbers and Chris Pontius grabbed the goals for the visiting Union, but Sacha Kljestan, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Dax McCarty — how’s that for all the stars showing up? — erased a 1-0 deficit, put the Red Bulls 2-1 up, and finally put the hosts 3-2 ahead, where they would remain until the final whistle. The victory pushes RBNY back ahead of New York City FC for the East’s top spot based on tiebreakers. The Union, meanwhile, are mostly safe as a playoff side, but could fall all the way to sixth by weekend’s end.
Three Four Five moments that mattered
15′ — Herbers finishes first time for 1-0 — Pontius has had an unbelievable rebound of a season, and he set up Herbers’ opener, but the rookie from Germany has been an equally pleasant surprise. Three goals, to go with seven assists, after this one.
44′ — Kljestan responds with a first-timer for 1-1 — “Anything you can do, I can do better” — Kljestan, to Herbers, as he stroked the equalizer past Andre Blake.
47′ — BWP rifles home after McCarty’s through ball — BWP does what BWP does. 21 on the season, pulling him level with David Villa in the Golden Boot race.
55′ — Pontius heads past Robles for 2-2 — He sets them up, and he scores them himself. That’s 12 goals (tying his career high – 2012), 6 assists on the season for Pontius.
66′ — McCarty turns on invisibility, heads home for 3-2 — Sure, McCarty is short, and redheaded, but he’s also a professional soccer player capable of heading the ball into a large goal with zero pressure on him.
Man of the match: Dax McCarty
Goalscorers: Herbers (15′), Kljestan (44′), Wright-Phillips (47′), Pontius (55′), McCarty (66′)