Union can't catch a break at Red Bull Arena
It looked like the Philadelphia Union were going to snap a four game losing streak to the rival New York Red Bulls.
But a superbly-taken goal from Thierry Henry in the 81st minute doomed the Union to a 2-1 loss, preventing John Hackworth's team from earning its first ever point inside Red Bull Arena.
"I'm not going to say that we deserved anything, but at the time I thought we at least had a chance to get a point," said Union captain Brian Carroll post-game. "They had a couple of good buildups, a couple of good long balls and opportunites. Zac (MacMath) came up huge on a couple, but the one we let up, it was just a good goal."
After a scoreless opening half, New York took a 1-0 lead through an innocuous Dax McCarty effort. Latching onto a Jonny Steele cross, the midfielder's outside-of-the-foot flick somehow floated through traffic, beating MacMath at the far post.
Hackworth then made a tactical change, bringing on Conor Casey and Antoine Hoppenot in a double-switch. The move paid immediate dividends, as Casey equalized just 8 minutes later, heading home directly from a Sheanon Williams throw-in.
"It's tough. New York was pressing, they knew they had the pressure on them," Union center back Amobi Okugo told reporters. "We did a good job to tie it. Conor came in and made a great difference with the goal. It's 1-1 late in the game, so the pressure is on them. We've got to lock the fort down and hopefully come out with a result whether it's a tie or a win and we didn't do that today."
The difference was one defensive lapse and a moment of brilliance from Henry.
The superstar striker, returning from injury, floated between the Union center backs, brought down a Peguy Luyindula chip, and finished calmly with his left foot.
"You know, I thought we played well," added Jeff Parke, Okugo's backline partner. "I thought we did enough to get a point, but they did a little more at the end. They showed that, Henry has got some magic still and he had a nice play there that pushed them through to the three points. But I think we could have gotten a point at least."
The loss drops Philadelphia to 2-7-0 all time against New York. The Union are now 0-5-0 at Red Bull Arena in four league games and one U.S. Open Cup game.
"I feel like it's going to come," said Okugo of the Union's road struggles in New York. "We've had chances. Today we had a good chance to at least get a tie but we didn't do that. We lost focus for a little bit, and hopefully, when we (come back to Red Bull Arena later this year), we can get a result then."
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at k.kinkead@hotmail. com