New York Red Bulls 4, Philadelphia Union 1 | MLS Match Recap
HARRISON, N.J. – After a disappointing performance in Toronto at midweek, the New York Red Bulls returned home looking to regain their winning ways, and they did so with record-breaking swiftness.
Needing a win to keep pace with FC Dallas in the race for the Supporters’ Shield, the Red Bulls blitzed the Philadelphia Union for four first-half goals which proved more than enough in a 4-1 victory at Red Bull Arena on Sunday. The Red Bulls (17-10-6), even on points with FC Dallas, own the tiebreaker with just one match remaining in the 2015 season.
With the win, the New York Red Bulls clinch the top spot in the Eastern Conference as well as a spot in the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League.
For the Union (9-17-7), the loss brings them one game closer to the conclusion of yet another disappointing season.
The match saw Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch field a near-identical lineup to the side that fell 2-1 to Toronto FC on Wednesday night, with Lloyd Sam being the only change, returning to the fold in place of Gonzalo Veron.
Already etched in the history books thanks to Tim Cahill’s playoff goal in 2013, the Red Bulls now own the two fastest goals in the history of Major League Soccer. On Sunday afternoon, winger Mike Grella managed to one-up the Australian legend thanks to an errant Union back pass off the kickoff. Just seven seconds into the match, the Long Island native latched on to the misplayed ball and glided past Union defender Steven Vitoria before beating goalkeeper Andre Blake with a deflected strike for his first of the match.
It wasn’t much longer before the Red Bulls managed to double their lead, this time thanks to forward Bradley Wright-Phillips. A Sacha Kljestan corner kick found the head of defender Damien Perrinelle in the center of the Union penalty area, and Wright-Phillips netted a first-time effort from close range at the far post after the flicked header.
Grella did well to notch his ninth goal of the season in the 17th minute. An entry feed from captain Dax McCarty gave room for Grella to showcase his 1v1 skill before again beating Blake to his near post.
New York’s onslaught was capped off by Kemar Lawrence’s first MLS goal just minutes before the halftime whistle. A nice piece of buildup play started with a give-and-go between McCarty and Sam. Latching onto McCarty's low back-post cross, the Jamaican international beat his defender to the ball to tap in from inside the six-yard box.
The Union would get one back through Sebastien Le Toux in the 55th minute, but it would prove little more than consolation as Marsch was able to rest some key starters in the later stages of the match.
Looking to take home their second Supporters’ Shield in three years, the Red Bulls can virtually guarantee its return to Harrison with a win in their season finale against the Chicago Fire next Sunday night. Meanwhile, the Union will finish off their frustrating season at home as they host Orlando City SC.