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Shorthanded Union Drop Close Match to Red Bulls

Although the Philadelphia Union (2-6-1) played a close, well-fought game, they simply couldn’t hold onto their second half lead against their arch rival, the New York Red Bulls. In a game where goals were plentiful, the Union out jumped to a 2-1 lead, fueled by Columbian striker Lionard Pajoy who has had a quiet season thus far to say the least. But these twin goals proved to be just one too shy for a win as they fell 3-2.

Mothers Day rendered a loss to Union fans, but it also showed some bright spots on this team. The team generated 21 scoring opportunities, significantly more than the last four games combined. Goalkeeper Zac MacMath played another solid game, despite allowing 3 goals. Pajoy had a multi-goal game, ending his streak of six straight games without a goal. But most importantly, youngster Freddy Adu finally looked as though he was worth the money the Union spent in acquiring him last season. He played a smart game, setting up Pajoy’s first goal, and was the best player on the field before being tossed due to a controversial second yellow card.

The Red Bulls celebrate Joel Lindepere’s goal.

The Red Bulls only needed 16 minutes to find the back of the net. Mehdi Ballouchy found Joel Lindepere over the middle of the field. Without hesitation, Lindpere fired a shot into the top corner over the right shoulder of MacMath. It didn’t take long, however, for the Union to reply. Freddy Adu masterfully dribbled down the sidelines and crossed a ball into the box, where Pajoy had managed to get himself open; the Columbian directed home a header into the top corner of the goal.

In the closing minutes of a first half that was promising for the Union, everything changed. The team went from holding their heads high and feeling good about their offensive onslaught to feeling confused and vulnerable. In the 43rd minute Adu dribbled through the box looking for an open shot. But when attempting to split between two guys, he slightly embellished a trip. The referee came over and while players and fans watched in confusion, he waved a yellow card in the direction of Adu. Being his second yellow, he was taken off the field and suspended for the next game.

This card is controversial to say the least. To expel a player from a game before halftime, at home, while playing a fantastic game is almost unheard of. Aside from that, when you look at the replay in slow motion, it shows Adu was slightly clipped in the box. Sure he exaggerated the fall, but not unlike any professional soccer player would have.

After the game Adu said: “I felt good, my body felt great, and my teammates were finding me in the right spots. Danny Mwanga battled his butt off, Pajoy’s movement today was great. It made it a lot easier for me to slip in and be a second playmaker. Guys would just suck defenders through them and then at the last moment I would pop in and be wide open”.

Pajoy heads home his first of two goals (sportsvuesoccer).

But the Union would not go down without a fight. Just one minute into the second half, Lionard Pajoy was sent a ball that he dribbled into the bottom left of the box. The Red Bulls goalkeeper came out to meet him, but Pajoy was too quick and slightly chipped the ball of his right shoulder. There was a roar of appreciation from the 18K who thought this game might have been over. 2-1 Philadelphia.

The Union kept up the steady pressure despite playing with ten men. They had to change virtually every aspect of their game plan without the facilitator Adu. Philadelphia was still controlling the ball and the pace, but they could only hold on for so long. New York forward Markus Holgersson got his head on the end of a corner kick and headed it past Zac MacMath to tie things up at 2.

When the game looked like it could end in a draw, the Red Bulls striked again. Forward Kenny Cooper managed to find the back of the net for his 9th goal of the season, tied for second in the MLS. A winnable game, or at least a game resulting in 1 point, had now slipped out of their reach.

In the waning moments of the game, the Union played the ball into the box. After going through a few people, the ball arrived at Michael Farfan’s feet a foot away from the goal line and an open net. All he had to do was simply tap the ball forward into the goal, but instead he rushed the shot and shanked the ball wide of the goal.

However, his miss led to a cross and another scoring opportunity. And there stood Union defender Carlos Valdes, only having to get a piece of his body on the ball to direct it into yet another empty net. And again Valdes failed to get his body on the ball. A pathetic display to cap off what was otherwise promising performance.

Still second to last in the East, the Union play FC Dallas this Saturday while looking to get a win on the road.

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Categories: Union

Author:George Hall

Khandyman Sports Blog Philadelphia Union writer.

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One Comment on “Shorthanded Union Drop Close Match to Red Bulls”

  1. July 31, 2012 at 4:17 am #

    get with times thats old news chump

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