Philadelphia Union 2, New York City FC 1 | MLS Match Recap
CHESTER, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union’s winless streak is no more.
In front of a sellout crowd at PPL Park on Saturday afternoon, Vincent Nogueira scored the stoppage-time winner to lift the Union to a dramatic 2-1 victory over New York City FC in the first-ever meeting between the new Eastern Conference rivals.
Zach Pfeffer also scored for the Union (1-3-2), who snapped a three-game losing streak and won their first game of the season, while David Villa scored the only goal for New York City FC (1-2-2), who are winless in their last three.
With the game heading toward a tie, Union winger Andrew Wenger played a lofted cross that NYC goalkeeper Josh Saunders batted away at the near post. But in the process, Saunders collided with Conor Casey on the play and the ball squirted out to a wide-open Nogueira near the penalty spot, who buried it for his first goal of the season.
Philly native John McCarthy made three saves in his MLS debut, including one on a Villa free kick in the 89th minute to help preserve the point. He got the start in place of Algerian international Rais Mbolhi, who was benched earlier in the week by Union head coach Jim Curtin.
Trailing 1-0 at halftime, New York City found an equalizer early in the 55th minute with Villa netting his second of the season following a beautiful sequence of one-touch passes that featured Khiry Shelton, Adam Nemec and Josh Williams. Villa, who started the sequence with a nifty backheel, essentially dribbled it into the net after Williams made the final pass.
It was NYCFC’s first goal since March 15 after they were shut out in back-to-back games. Villa had missed the team’s last game with a minor injury.
New York won the possession battle on the day, accumulating 64% of the game's possession thanks to the midfield trio of Mix Diskerud, Ned Grabavoy, and Andrew Jacobson, but rarely did it result in clear-cut chances, as Philadelphia outshot the expansion team 12 to 7.
The Union’s first goal of 2015 at PPL Park came in the 27th minute after Wenger raced down the sideline and played a ball to Sebastien Le Toux, who beat a sliding tackle from Jason Hernandez to get to the end line. After making two touches in the box, Le Toux then slid the ball across the mouth of goal, putting it on a platter for Eric Ayuk and Zach Pfeffer. Ayuk got the first touch on it, bungling it towards goal, and celebrated with a few ridiculous backflips, but the goal was later given to Pfeffer since it deflected off his leg before crossing the line.
It was the second career MLS goal for Pfeffer, who was back in Philly’s starting lineup after serving a two-game suspension.
New York City appeared to equalize in the 28th minute – just a minute after the Union opened the scoring – but Nemec’s goal was whistled back because the ball was ruled out of bounds before Villa played it to him.
The game took a scary turn midway through the second half when Le Toux sliced his arm after crashing into the boards behind the goal and had to come off. Le Toux – who was playing as the team’s lone forward in place of leading scorer Fernando Aristeguieta — a late scratch with a calf injury — went to the locker room and was replaced by C.J. Sapong.
The two teams will meet again this week, with NYCFC hosting Philadelphia at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night.