Union battle Henry, Cahill and rest of NYC to earn feeling of satisfaction at Red Bull Arena

Complete Union defensive effort stymies rival Red Bull in Jersey

Union vs. New York Aug. 17

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Sports Images

HARRISON, N.J. -- It took three and a half years and six full games, but the Philadelphia Union finally broke through at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night, earning a point for the first time ever inside the previously hexed venue.

It was a sloppy, scoreless draw, but it ended a winless streak in Harrison dating back to the club's founding. Philadelphia had lost four times in league play and once in the U.S. Open Cup in five prior games on New York's home turf.

"I think it says a lot about our team, the way we've approached games this year and our mentality coming into a place where we haven't even gotten a point, ever," manager John Hackworth told reporters postgame. "Especially against a Red Bull team that I thought was at full strength tonight and was excellent for long stretches of that match. Credit to our guys for really doing a good job defensively. The longer that game went on, I felt like we opened them up a little bit and even had some chances to find one at the end."

Philadelphia's defense earned its fourth shutout in the last five games.

Zac MacMath faced just three shots on goal, palming away a headed first half effort from Fabian Espindola and denying Brandon Barklage on the goal line in stoppage time.

Content to counterattack, the Union arguably had the better chances, striking the crossbar through Sebastien Le Toux in the 73rd minute before Luis Robles was able to turn aside Antoine Hoppenot's point blank effort in the 81st minute.

"It feels good, you know?," said center back Amobi Okugo. "It was kind of like a playoff feel. We knew the importance of the game and everyone stepped up, the midfield especially. (Brian Carroll) and Keon Daniel, the amount of (running) they did was big for us. We felt like we had a couple of chances late in the game where we could have won, but the amount of defending we had to do, we'll take the point."

It was the first draw for the Union in the series, who moved to 3-7-1 all-time against the Red Bulls.

John Hackworth's team has now earned four of six possible points against New York since snapping a five game losing streak to their rivals at PPL Park on June 23.

The Union also improved to 4-4-4 on the road in 2013.

"They're a good team, and they're a good team at home," right back Sheanon Williams said. "We definitely played a lot of defense, but with that being said, I think we had the better chances in the game to maybe get three points. We talked about that going into the game, I think a point here is definitely something that we'll take."

Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at k.kinkead@hotmail.com