Crosses, conversions do Union in against Red Bulls

Cooper nets brace, Union fall 2-0 at Red Bull Arena

Philly NY

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Two great crosses – and two goals for Kenny Cooper.

New York’s star forward ended a seven game scoring slump on Saturday afternoon, heading home twice to sink the Union 2-0 at Red Bull Arena.

“We have to do a better job following him,” Union interim head coach John Hackworth told reporters after the game. “They were really good at executing that last ball and making good runs. On the other side, the number of times we served the ball into the box tonight, [we had] poor runs, poor service. I think that was the difference.”

The Union struggled in 2011 with set piece and cross defense, but those numbers have improved drastically in 2012.

Post game, Hackworth did not want to criticize his team’s recent performances in that department.

“Crosses, I think we’ve got to stay better balanced,” Hackworth explained. “But they’re really good. I mean, when you have Sebastien Le Toux, and Thierry Henry, and Kenny Cooper as their targets, you know, they’re excellent players. And when you get those [mismatches], that was well done on their part. We’ve done a great job of it though, [defending balls into the box]. I don’t want to really beat up the guys in the locker room, because I don’t think that’s been a big problem for us, at least in the last 7 games.”

Both of Cooper’s goals came on services from the left side of the field. Connor Lade assisted on the first goal, while Henry served up the second.

“We can always defend better, and get more pressure on the cross,” said Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath. “Then obviously we can defend better on the cross with the guys in the box. [They were] two tough goals, with good balls in, and good headers.”

“They were good balls, but we can do better as a team defensively, whether it’s closing down the cross or trying to adjust Cooper’s run so he can’t head the ball that easily,” added center back Amobi Okugo. “The second goal, we thought it was offside, so that’s probably why he got a free header. But that’s in the past now and we’ve got to look forward to New England.”

Philadelphia’s smaller and faster lineup was able to keep the ball on the ground for portions of the game. But New York’s bigger lineup was able to disrupt the Union’s rhythm. The Red Bulls started five field players with a height of six foot two, or taller.

“I thought we had some bad turnovers to lead to those goals,” explained striker Jack McInerney. “But they worked the ball well around us and they played to their strength, which was size. So, credit to them.”

“I thought we gave up two pretty bad goals,” said right back Sheanon Williams. “Credit to them for being at the right spot at the right time and finishing their chances. That being said, I thought we could have pulled off a point...But we lost, and we have to move on.”