Category Archives: Eastern Conference

Eastern Conference

With missing pieces in place, NYCFC defeats Philadelphia Union 3-1 on MLS Decision Day

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Sunday, October 28: 3-1 Win

New York City Football Club was finally back home on Sunday, playing with a full, healthy squad taking on Philadelphia Union. Not only was it Fan Appreciation Day but most importantly, MLS Decision Day, which determined the draw for the knockout round.  NYCFC needed a victory to secure a number 3 seed and a first-round home game.

Amid rumors of David Villa’s looming end-of-season retirement and with the possibility of an away first-round playoff game (depending on the result of this game), fans were aching to enjoy every moment of Villa on the home pitch. Our captain did not disappoint with his deep crossing runs, elegant ball movement and, of course, a goal.  Villa played the entire 90 minutes which resulted in a 3-1 NY City victory over the Union. Other goals were scored by Maxime Chanot (NYC), Auston Trusty (Philadelphia own goal) and Cory Burke (Philadelphia).

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David Villa maneuvers past a Union player in the 2nd half. Image: Tisha Gale

The game was not just a result of excellent tactics and effort by Villa but also by the triumphant return of Yangel Herrera in midfield.  Herrera missed most of the season due to an injury.  With Herrera’s calm yet aggressive presence on the field, the team looked tight and complete.  Herrera made the transition from defense to offense look smooth.  Is this what we have been lacking for these past few months?

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Post-match Yangel Herrera. Image: Tisha Gale

One of the most exciting moments of the match was executed by goalkeeper Sean Johnson when he made a flying save on a penalty kick awarded to Philadelphia for a foul called on Johnson himself. Johnson was pumped, the crowd was pumped and the save seemed to put the final nail in the Union’s coffin.

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Goalkeeper Sean Johnson celebrates the victory with fans. Image: Tisha Gale

With the win in hand, NYCFC will next face, yup, Philadelphia Union on Halloween.

With Halloween being a big holiday in the New York and Hudson Valley region, many fans discussed the disappointment in finding out that the playoff game was taking place that night rather than November 1st.  The date was determined by the television networks who do some version of drawing straws and taking picks for game coverage.  It seems that we got tricked while the #4 seeded DC United got all the treats.

Looking forward to the rematch with Philly on Wednesday.  I think Yankee Stadium will be a House of Horrors for the Union with NYCFC getting through to meet (a suddenly beatable?) Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference Series.

Featured image: @TishaGale

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Columbus Crew SC Playoff Bound

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Sunday, October 28: 3-2 Win

The game was about as shaky and unpredictable as the Ohio weather.  Columbus Crew SC took on the Minnesota United FC in the final game of the season in Columbus. 

Before the game, the sun shone down and prepared the teams and fans for a game that determined the Crew’s playoff possibilities. However, nine minutes in, Ohio weather being Ohio weather, decided to change tactics.  Lightning and rain caused a delay–foiling the MLS’ plan that all games end at the same time leaving every teams’ playoff fate unknown until the final minute of all those synchronized games.  Well, as MLS has learned this year, Columbus rarely does it the way they want us to.

After about an hour delay, the game resumed in the blustering wind, rain, and a significant temperature drop.  Crew SC jumped back into the match quickly with a short corner from Federico Higuain to Milton Valenzuela.  Valenzuela sent in a cross, which Gyasi Zardes headed into the goal in the 11’ of the game

In the 41’, a scary scene emerged, as Columbus Crew’s Gaston Sauro in an effort to stop a streaking Angelo Rodriguez, collided with keeper Zack Steffen leaving both Rodriguez and Steffen on the ground for several minutes with Rodriguez being subbed out.  Steffen returned to the match with a collective sigh of relief leaving all Crew fans.

The first half ended with Crew SC up 1-0 and a playoff spot clinched as the Montreal Impact lost to the New England Revolution.   Despite the guaranteed playoff spot, it was important for Crew SC to get the win as they have struggled to get results as of late and need to get into form if they want to go deep into the playoffs and make a run for the MLS Cup.

Gyasi Zardes scored quickly again in the second half slotting a ball in the 49’ after following up a free kick from Higuain that bounced off of Minnesota goalkeeper Matt Lampson, but Minnesota had no desire to make this easy for the Crew.  Francisco Calvo, a Minnesota defender scored in the 68’ unmarked off a free kick, and again in the 77’, as a ball skipped between Harrison Afful’s legs right to Calvo.  Minnesota had evened up the score. 

However, Zardes decided that it was time to score his first career hat trick and scored the final goal of the night in the 83’ off a beautiful ball from Niko Hansen putting the Crew SC in fifth place.

Other thoughts:

I haven’t written a lot of articles this season about Crew SC.  First, I can’t watch away games at home due to some bizarre blackout rule that I have yet to figure out.  Second, my personal life outside of soccer has been a bit more crazy than normal.  And third, this was an emotionally hard season.  Due to the possibility of the Crew’s move to Austin, every game felt more emotionally draining than normal.  It was difficult to want to relive that in recaps and articles. 

However, it looks likely, due to a local ownership group that includes the Edwards and Haslam families, that Crew SC may remain in Columbus with Austin getting its own team.  Now until the final i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, I will not feel completely calm, but it helped me enjoy this game a lot more. 

Zardes scored his first professional hat trick in this game and ended the regular season with 19 goals.  I have a lot of respect for Sigi Schmid, but I’m not sure what he was thinking trying to play Gyasi at leftback last season when Zardes was with the Galaxy.  Gregg Berhalter has a proven system that helps make his forwards successful goal scorers. 

As this was the last regular season home game, it always makes me pause and wonder who we are possibly watching for the last time as a Crew SC player.  Will Steffen and Wil Trapp head to Europe?  Will Berhalter be named the new USMNT head coach?  The answers to these questions, for now, remain unknown but I am very thankful that these men have played a part in Columbus Crew SC history.

Typically, Crew SC is on a hot streak going into the playoffs.   This season, we have not seen this streak.  In fact, it’s been pretty much the opposite.  If Crew SC can’t find their top-level form and make the mistakes they made against Minnesota, their playoff run will be short-lived.

Let’s hope Crew SC bring their A-game against a very tough DC United team this Thursday in the playoff knockout game

Featured image: @ColumbusCrewSC

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New York Red Bulls and the Decision Day Drama

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Decision Day.

This isn’t a day to just build momentum for the playoffs. Not a time to sit back and prepare for a couple of months off. No one is here to just contemplate his future with his club. The Supporter’s Shield is not absolutely decided yet.

There’s a party to be had. Or one to crash.

Orlando City SC sits in last place for the Eastern Conference. Former Red Bull New York captain Sacha Kljestan is ready to keep his former team from the prize that he once lifted for them.

Just north of the border, Toronto FC hosts Atlanta United. The reigning MLS Cup Champions and current Shield holders have been edged out of the playoffs. With a win by ATL, Atlanta could take both the Shield and the season points record at BMO Field.

Red Bulls rooting for Toronto? Atlanta rooting for Orlando?

This is one strange party.

SUPPORTER’S DAY: From the Fan-designed scarves to the supporter group bubble soccer match at halftime, today was for the fans. They are the reason the Shield is a thing. In other leagues around the world, today would be the final game of the season. They don’t “do” playoffs. And with the Shield within reach, the team was compelled to give it all they had.

NOT SO FAST: Scoreless on both sides in the first half, this wasn’t going to be easy. Toronto FC was nice enough to score two goals, which would do the job. But an actual win would be much more satisfying.

THAT’S THE STUFF: Derrick Etienne, Jr., RBNY’s “Haitian Messi,” who missed a penalty kick in the first half, made a beautiful goal in the 53rd minute. He’s had a rough season, unable to finish the chances he’s had. But he was able to sneak the ball under Orlando goalkeeper Adam Grinwis‘s arm and into the net.

Dom Dwyer found the back of the net ten minutes later, but…… (here we go again…)

ENTER VAR.

The Assistant Referee called Dwyer offside, and VAR confirmed it. So while a scoreline of 1-0 isn’t incredibly sexy, it accomplished the mission. (Oh, and did I mention Toronto ended up winning 4-1? Because yeah they did.)

WHEN IN DOUBT, IMPROVISE: Who doesn’t love a good trophy raise? Only trouble was, the trophy won tonight was out of town. But the team had a banner. They had confetti cannons. They even plasticated the locker room for the champagne showers (plasticate is a word, don’t @ me). So what do they do?

Seriously, though: Congratulations to the New York Red Bulls. The most home points, the most home wins, a league record for points earned, and the third Supporter’s Shield in 6 seasons. A hell of a way to close the season. On to the playoffs!

Featured image: Bill Twomey

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

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Montréal Impact keep the Playoff dream alive with win over TFC

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @evejulia9

Result: 2-0 Victory vs TFC

It was a matchday like no other. Rivals Toronto FC were visiting Stade Saputo looking to put the final nail in the coffin of Montréal Impact’s playoff hopes. Elsewhere, DC United were officially claiming the fifth of six playoff spots, while Columbus Crew continued a tie game with Orlando SC, a team which boasted the most porous defense in the league.

With TFC eliminated from playoff contention several weeks ago, the match was more about pride than anything, as most had written off the Impact’s playoff hopes, even if mathematically the Bleu-Blanc-Noir still had a chance to make the cut. With Victor Vazquez and Jozy Altidore sidelined through injury, TFC still brought out a strong lineup, looking to play spoiler to their enemy.

For the home side, left back Daniel Lovitz, whose offensive spark contributed to a goal and five assists on the season, found himself injured and unavailable for selection. Jukka Raitala entered the starting lineup at left back and Rudy Camacho, whose previous performances against nimble opponents like Sebastian Giovinco or Lucho Acosta were nightmarish, returned to central defense.

Regardless of what would happen in the match, the supporter groups 1642 Montréal and Ultras de Montréal were ready to stand behind their team with season finale tifo displays.

With the Impact having firmly established their identity as a counterattacking team, it comes as no surprise that TFC enjoyed the lion’s share of ball possession during long stretches of the first half. Evan Bush was called into action as once again Camacho allowed Giovinco to slip behind him, but the Italian’s one-on-one shot lacked any conviction and Bush smothered the ball. In the 35th minute, the Impact had the ball in the back of the net, but following a VAR consultation, referee Baldomero Toledo ruled the goal offside and the teams retreated to the locker rooms in a deadlock.

Following the break, it was clear that Rémi Garde’s request for more aggressivity from his team was heard loud and clear. Several times the Impact hit TFC on the counter, but both captain Ignacio Piatti and striker Quincy Amarikwa wasted their opportunities, and keeper Alex Bono made a heroic save on a header from Saphir Taïder.

Finally, in the 71st minute, VAR was called into action again. Substitute defender Eriq Zavaleta, who has long struggled when facing Piatti, was found to have pulled on the Argentinean’s jersey inside the TFC box, and this time VAR ruled in the home team’s favour. “Nacho” stepped up to the spot and calmly converted the shot.

In the 88th minute, the Impact sealed a 14th victory of the season when Piatti beat a defender and the goalkeeper to casually slot the ball into an empty net, marking his 16th goal of the season. Unbeknownst to the team, results elsewhere allowed the Impact to remain in the playoff race, with Orlando claiming their first win in over a dozen matches in the last seconds to leave Columbus only 2 points above the Impact and that vital red line.

With the last home game of the season in the books, it was only fitting that coach Garde, whose adaptation to the team and the league was painful but has now blossomed into something beautiful, rang the North Star Bell to celebrate the victory.

Since the playoffs are still in reach, the Impact must travel to New England Revolution and claim a Decision Day victory, while hoping Columbus lose or draw in their match versus Minnesota United. No matter how the 2018 campaign ends, to still be in the playoff discussion after such a dismal start speaks volumes to how the team has flourished over the course of the season and fans are waiting for that do-or-die match with baited breath.

Featured image: Montréal Impact

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The Hunt for a Home Playoff Match Continues

Cait Costello - Philadelphia Union/mlsfemale
Official Philadelphia Union Reporter

By Cait Costello // @caitcostello

Fresh off an international break that saw both Andre Blake and Borek Dockal serving as captains for their respective national teams, the Philadelphia Union faced off against the New York Red Bulls for their home season finale.

The Union’s defense thwarted Bradley Wright-Phillips and the Red Bulls’ offense, holding them scoreless until the 69th minute. A hand ball in the box by Alejandro Bedoya and a lengthy VAR review resulting in a penalty kick gave Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra all the opportunity he needed to get one goal up on the Union. Though the Union took more shots throughout the game, they weren’t able to turn any of their chances into a goal, and the match ended in a 1-0 win for the Red Bulls.

The Good

Homegrown hot shots Mark McKenzie and Auston Trusty yet again proved themselves as valuable members of the Union’s defense. At only 19 and 20, Philly may not have much time left with these two, but it will be exciting to watch them grow in their careers.
The Union held up well against the No. 2 team in the league, leading both in shots and possession. Before the penalty kick, a 0-0 finish and 1 point felt like a real possibility.

The Bad

Bedoya’s hand ball dashed the Union’s hopes for a draw, but an earlier tangle with Fafa Picault in the 40th minute cost them a chance at a goal when Bedoya inadvertently blocked Fafa’s shot.

It was a rough game all around, with both teams each netting 13 fouls. Three of the match’s five yellow cards went to the Union—CJ Sapong (37’), Auston Trusty (47’), and Picault (66’).

The Ugly

The tension on the pitch only increased when a scuffle broke out just as the first half ended. Luckily for all the players, the shoving didn’t result in any further penalties or cards, and the teams headed into the locker rooms to cool off.

After the match, Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin took some time out of their post-game remarks to take the Union front office to task for Sunday’s field conditions, with Medunjanin going so far as to say he’d prefer an away playoff berth unless the situation improves.

Longtime Union fans know that this is a team that does better while playing consistently, and they tend to come back from a bye week or international break below peak form.

This Sunday, the Union face off with NYCFC in Yankee Stadium for their last chance to secure a home playoff game, and they’ll be doing it with DC United breathing down their necks. Let’s hope they can get back into their groove this week.

Featured image: Ardell McDuffie

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @caitcostello

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And the youth will carry us. US Men’s National Team draws with Peru 1-1

Keira Smith - NYCFC/mlsfemale
Official NYCFC Reporter

By Keira Smith // @keiramunsmith

Tuesday, October 16: 1-1 Draw

I have to admit that many of my past experiences watching and cheering for the United States Men’s National Team have left me feeling unfulfilled.  Let down. Even sad. For me, the big draw to checking out this week’s friendly between the United States and Peru was the unique opportunity to see two New York City Football Club defenders face off.  It was Ben Sweat for the US and Alexander Callens representing Peru in similar roles for their respective teams.

After watching the match multiple times, my biggest takeaway is that I am actually optimistic about the future of our men’s team.  The game ended in a 1-1 draw and Peru had more possession, however, there were many moments of beautiful soccer involving some of our youngest players on the team.

The US did a great job of forcing turnovers in the middle third and immediately starting speedy counterattacks involving some combination of teenagers Timothy Weah, Josh Sargent, and Jonathan Amon working tightly with Kellyn Acosta. Weah, Sargent, and Amon all have day jobs with European clubs alongside injured US teammate Christian Pulisic.

I may be overenthusiastic about this, perhaps because my expectations were pretty low,  but there were true flashes of beauty from these players.  Obviously, the more experience they get playing as a unit, the better the national team will become.  Another player who stood out was Marky Delgado, who is still relatively young at 23.

Both Peru and the US seemed to do the majority of their attacking down the right flank, which meant that Ben Sweat and Alexander Callens were involved with most of the game.  Sweat did a fine a job in left back while most likely battling some nerves.  Notable to me was his speed in getting back to destroy plays but he seemed to choose the back pass a bit too often for my liking and made a few poor tackles which did little to decelerate some of Peru’s attacks.

Ben Sweat should get another look in that role to see if he can be more decisive in his tackles and capitalize more on his offensive capabilities as well.  He did have one respectable shot on goal in this match.   Callens played in a center-left back role and as expected, used his physical strength to outmuscle US attacks down the right side.  It’s interesting to watch his play “from the other side” as it looks a bit less smooth with his national team and he can be a bit late with his tackles which lead to at least one foul.

One other takeaway for me that I am proud of:  Peru was constantly playing to draw fouls, falling over with the slightest contact, banging the ground and writhing in pain.  For most of the game, the US team players would immediately jump up if they hit the ground to keep an attack going or would fight to stay vertical in a duel.  To me, it was a sharp contrast of styles and it’s the style that keeps the game moving and makes it more fun to watch.

I was not expecting to walk away from this game excited for the future of the US Men’s National Team and yet with all these talented young yet experienced players, I have hope.

Featured image: @ussoccer_mnt

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @keiramunsmith

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Impact keep a foot in the playoff race with win over Crew

Eve Powell - Montreal Impact/mlsfemale
Official Montreal Impact Reporter

By Eve // @evejulia9

Saturday, October 6: 3-0 Win

The city of Montréal was rather bereft of hope following the Impact’s humiliating road defeat to hotly pursuing DC United. As the week leading up to the match versus Columbus Crew wore on, and Ignacio Piatti remained absent from training, fans grew increasingly morose at the thought of facing another powerful conference rival without their most crucial player.

As the previous match had been a “must win” for the Impact, and they had quite spectacularly bottled it, it became all the more important to take 3 points from the Crew.

Lo and behold, despite serious injury concerns, Piatti donned the captain’s armband and started the match. However, a sharp increase in his passing rate indicated that he was not at 100% fitness.

Given the massacre the Bleu-Blanc-Noir suffered in their previous match, it was impossible to say if they were going to use that result as fuel to perform, or if the players were still licking their wounds. As Columbus called Evan Bush into action a few times early in the match, optimism was hard to come by.

However, as the Impact began to find their bearings in the game, Alejandro Silva’s cross was deflected off a Crew defender’s arm. Referee Alan Kelly elected to consult VAR and awarded a penalty to the Impact. De facto penalty striker Piatti handed the ball off to Saphir Taïder and the Algerian scored his seventh goal of the season.

Momentum then swung in favour of the Impact, as in the last moments of the first half, Silva channeled his inner Piatti and made light of the 5 defenders surrounding him to finish a brilliant individual effort with his fifth goal of the season.

Columbus undoubtedly saw more of the ball in the second half of the game, and they penetrated Montréal’s defense more than coach Rémi Garde probably liked. However, Bush came up massive every time and equalled a personal record to claim his 9th clean sheet with 9 saves, several of which required great reflexes from the keeper.

To put a cherry on the sundae, Piatti’s dedication to the team despite his injury was rewarded when he scored off a classic counter-attack in the 59th minute to seal the scoreline at 3-0.

For the Impact, a convincing win at home against a very well-coached team of great quality was the perfect response to their humiliation in DC. However, DC United remain a mere 2 points behind the Impact with 2 games in hand, meaning the Impact have to hope that DC drop points in their remaining matches while performing flawlessly themselves.

Their next test will undoubtedly be a difficult one – recently eliminated rivals Toronto FC will be in town on October 21st, and they’ll certainly be keen to spoil Montréal’s playoff hopes.

Featured image: Montréal Impact

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @evejulia9

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Red Bulls Doing it Right

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, October 6: 1-3 Win

How much of a bummer would it have been for me to have to report on a loss on my first article back from my hiatus? Thanks to the boys in white, I don’t have to worry about such things.

LONG TIME COMING: I don’t usually know factoids like this… The New York Red Bulls have not won an away game against the San Jose Earthquakes during the regular season since it was the Metrostars playing the Clash (2003). That’s a mighty long time. They did defeat the Earthquakes in a playoff match in 2010. That and two dollars gets them a ride on the subway. The Colorado Rapids won the Cup that year. But I digress.

It could have been a loss. Despite the strongest roster in recent history. Regardless of the resounding win against Atlanta the week before. MLS does… well… MLS things. A cross-country trek. An international break looming. Two usual starters not even along for the trip (Tyler Adams and Daniel Royer).  So there was no foregone conclusion for the evening.

‘SICK’ IS A COMPLIMENT: RBNY used their signature High Press tactic to keep the possession and the threat close to the San Jose goal. Quakes goalkeeper James Marcinkowski, a 21-year-old Academy product, held up for the most part. But then Red Bull workhorse midfielder Alex Muyl recovered Marcinkowski’s deflection of Michael Amir Murillo’s shot and quite literally rode it into the net.

I want you to note that striker Bradley Wright-Phillips was quite close to the action. He could have gotten a foot on there as well. But he didn’t have to, and he knew it. Besides, his time was coming. About 200 seconds later.

Marc Rzatkowski took a free kick that Wright-Phillips got his head on. But it bounced off the far post. But it went right back to Wright-Phillips.

SO. HE. ASSISTED. HIMSELF.

If that isn’t the stuff of legend, I don’t know what to tell you.

THIRD TIME WAS A CHARM: It just kept getting better. Starting with a corner kick (courtesy of RZA), dynamic defender duo Tim Parker and Aaron Long joined forces to land the ball in the net a third time.

(If you didn’t see the play… you have to see the play. Seriously. On a loop.)

ON TO THE NEXT: I could talk about Chris Wondolowski’s goal (83′), but quite frankly I’d rather mention how he missed an open net a few minutes before and made me giggle uncontrollably. But that’s neither here nor there… let the Quakes get their own reporter.

It’s time for an international break. Six players are headed to national team call ups: Derrick Etienne Jr, Haiti; Kemar Lawrence, Jamaica; Amir Murillo and Fidel Escobar, Panama; Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra, Paraguay; and Aaron Long, United States.

Then comes one more away match against the Philadelphia Union and the final home match of the regular season against Orlando City. The Red Bulls have already secured a spot and a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Featured image: @NewYorkRedBulls

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @kerissaward

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“We Don’t Suck”: The Philadelphia Union Are Going to the Playoffs

Cait Costello - Philadelphia Union/mlsfemale
Official Philadelphia Union Reporter

By Cait Costello // @caitcostello

After a disappointing US Open Cup loss followed by a scoreless road draw, the Philadelphia soccer community was tense, wondering if the Philadelphia Union had what it took to win a game with stakes on the line. In his post-game remarks, Union head coach Jim Curtin admitted that he too was nervous going into the match against Minnesota United FC.

If the players were nervous as they returned to their home turf on Saturday night, they never showed it. The team that ran onto the pitch was a team ready to prove that the pair of surprising wins leading into the US Open Cup was not a fluke but the status quo for a team that has visibly clicked in the latter half of this season.

The Union dominated the first half of the match, scoring early and often. Center forward Cory Burke shot from outside the box to score the first point in the 8th minute with an assist from the Union’s #10, Borek Dockal.

In the 17th minute, a strong cross from defender Keegan Rosenberry followed by a left-footed shot from Union captain Alejandro Bedoya took the Union up 2-0 over Minnesota. The fans barely had a chance to settle back into their seats when Fafa Picault slipped through two MNUFC defenders with a through ball from Rosenberry and scored the third goal of the evening in the 23rd minute.

The Union kept shooting as they sought a fourth goal, trading possession with MNUFC and making six more attempts—four missed and two saved. Union goalkeeper Andre Blake felt pressure from Minnesota as he made two big saves in as many minutes before sending the ball down the field.

In the 44th minute, Fafa, looking cool and collected, lobbed a shot from the left side of the box. The ball went over Minnesota’s back line to score the fourth goal—his second—and leave MNUFC goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth looking utterly demoralized at the end of the half.

MNUFC used the break to regroup and came out for the second half looking dangerous as they caught the Union off guard in the 54th minute when MNUFC’s Darwin Quintero put one past Blake to end the shutout.

Just when it felt like the Union’s earlier cohesion might be slipping, midfielder Ilsinho came on for Dockal as the Union’s first substitution. This well-timed change lead to multiple close chances in a row and reinvigorated the players and the supporters in the River End after the conceded goal, several fouls and a yellow card for Bedoya.

The Union demonstrated a level of confidence, comfort and footwork that remained steady for the rest of the game, even as Fafa and MNUFC’s Alexi Gomez both picked up yellow cards in the 72nd minute. Blake held MNUFC to one point with several great saves.

Ilsinho scored the Union’s fifth goal with an absolute rocket from 30 yards out in the 79th minute, and it was all over. At full time, the score sat at 5-1 Union, and the boys in blue clinched a playoff spot in commanding fashion.

As Fafa said after the game, the team proved that “we don’t suck.” Sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with two games remaining in their most successful regular season in franchise history, the Union are better positioned than ever for this third run at the postseason. Enjoy the international break, Union—you’ve earned it.

Featured image: @austheboss3

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @caitcostello

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Red Bull Review

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

::wakes up, yawns, stretches::

Hey guys… what’d I miss?

::Reads messages on phone::

EVERYTHING?!?!? I MISSED ALL OF IT????

Sorry, folks. I’ve actually been working 7 days a week for the past two months. I barely got to watch any of the games, let alone put together my thoughts on them.

FIVE, SIX SEVEN, EIGHT: The New York Red Bulls ended August with a 5-match run, including a double during MLS Heineken Rivalry Week. I have been critical of the Hudson River Derby as a legitimate rivalry… until I watched that 2nd half (I only got home in time for the second half… yay, my life).

It had spark. It had fight. It had technical ability and creativity on both sides. And it was a 1-1 draw. Scoring actually happened! Then they salvaged the match against Wayne Rooney and DC United 3-3. Draws during Rivalry Week actually make me giggle.

YOU’RE GONNA BE A STAR: There was an international break that RBNY actually honored, and several players were called to their national teams for friendlies. I personally went to the Ecuador v Jamaica match at Red Bull Arena with my dad, my son, and my Colorado Rapids counterpart. That was pretty great. Not getting to see Kemar Lawrence in action… less great. What can you do?

That same night, Tyler Adams, Tim Parker, and Aaron Long were about ten miles away representing the US. Huge congratulations to Aaron Long, who has taken the long way around (pun slightly intended) to his first call-up. He was never in a US Youth National team. He’s a kid from California (who had made questionable hairstyle choices in the past) who has proven himself as a strong defender and credible attacking threat, with two goals for the regular season.

NOW FOR THE BIG FINISH: With three matches left in the season, the New York Red Bulls are in 2nd place for the conference and the race for the Supporter’s Shield. Sophomore darlings Atlanta United are in the lead… but they couldn’t secure their position against RBNY. They were defeated (again) by the boys in red 2-0, even though Bradley Wright-Phillips was suspended due to yellow card accumulation and Tyler Adams was out with back issues.

Adams has also withdrawn from the US Men’s National Team roster for their October friendlies as a result. Aaron Long will be back with the USMNT.

The Red Bulls face the San Jose Earthquakes tonight at Avaya Stadium in California. I might just stay awake to get back in the swing of things.

Featured image: Bill Twomey

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @kerissaward

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