It took Roger Torres only a few moments to put his name all over Saturday’s showdown between the Philadelphia Union and the New York Red Bulls.
Less than a minute after coming on for Carlos Ruiz, Torres turned out to be just the spark the Union were looking for, scoring the only goal in Philly’s cathartic 1-0 victory over their rivals in front of a PPL Park-record crowd of 19,027.
The sequence began when New York defender Tim Ream had an ugly giveaway, passing the ball directly to Philly’s Danny Mwanga, another second-half sub. With a two-on-one opportunity, Mwanga took a few dribbles and then left it to Torres, who drilled the open look past Red Bulls ’keeper Bouna Coundoul.
It was the first career MLS goal for Torres, the diminutive 19-year-old midfielder from Colombia. He had six assists in his rookie campaign last year.
On the strength of that goal – and their third shutout of the season, already one more than last season’s total – the Union improve to 3-1 and now sit all alone atop the Eastern Conference.
The Red Bulls – despite dominating play for much of the fist half and getting a lot of support from a good group of fans who made the short trip through New Jersey – were dealt their first loss, falling to 1-1-2.
New York’s best scoring opportunities came from rising star Juan Agudelo, who hit the post in the 21st minute before striking the ball off the crossbar ten minutes later after he was sprung free on a lofted through ball.
The Red Bulls also controlled much of the possession before the break, and had five first-half corner kicks to Philly’s zero.
The Union, though, had a couple of surprisingly good looks from Ruiz, both from distance. The first was a cheeky attempt from around midfield that nearly caught Coundoul napping but sailed just over the net.
Brian Carroll, who’s been a rock in the center of the midfield for the Union this season, strained his hamstring and left the game after just five minutes. Amobi Okugo, fresh off international duty with the U-20 team, replaced him.
Justin Mapp returned for Philly after missing two games with a hamstring injury of his own and played nearly 60 minutes.
The Union return to action next Saturday with a game against Seattle at PPL Park (4 pm ET), while the Red Bulls return home to host the San Jose Earthquakes (7:30 pm ET).
PHI -- Roger Torres 1 (Danny Mwanga 1) 68
New York Red Bulls -- Bouna Coundoul, Jan Gunnar Solli, Tim Ream, Rafael Marquez, Roy Miller, Dane Richards (Luke Rodgers 67), Teemu Tainio, Dwayne De Rosario, Joel Lindpere, Juan Agudelo (Mehdi Ballouchy 84), Thierry Henry.
Substitutes Not Used: Stephen Keel, Tyler Lassiter, Carl Robinson, John Rooney, Alex Horwath.
TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (Juan Agudelo 2, Dwayne De Rosario 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 1 (Dwayne De Rosario 1); FOULS: 8 (Thierry Henry 3); OFFSIDES: 2 (Juan Agudelo 2); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Rafael Marquez 6); SAVES: 2 (Bouna Coundoul 2)
Philadelphia Union -- Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Jordan Harvey, Stefani Miglioranzi, Brian Carroll (Amobi Okugo 6), Keon Daniel, Justin Mapp (Danny Mwanga 59), Carlos Ruiz (Roger Torres 67), Sebastien Le Toux.
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Agorsor, Michael Farfan, Juan Diego Gonzalez, Zac MacMath.
TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (Sebastien Le Toux 2, Carlos Ruiz 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 8 (Stefani Miglioranzi 3, Sheanon Williams 3); OFFSIDES: 2 (Danny Mwanga 1, Carlos Ruiz 1); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Justin Mapp 1); SAVES: 1 (Faryd Mondragon 1)
NY -- Rafael Marquez (caution; Dissent) 14
NY -- Dane Richards (caution; Reckless Tackle) 29
PHI -- Danny Mwanga (caution; Reckless Tackle) 77
NY -- Roy Miller (caution; Reckless Tackle) 82
Referee: Alex Prus
Referee's Assistants: Rob Fereday; Corey Parker
4th Official: Mark Kadlecik
Time of Game: 1:50