“Coach [John Hackworth] came to us and said ‘everybody thinks we are just an OK team; we need a signature win. And I think today we went out there and executed exactly what coach told us to do.”
– Union defender Ray Gaddis
A signature win.
It’s really the only thing you can call Sunday’s emphatic 3-0 Union victory over MLS Eastern Conference rival New York.
Because it was the first time in five previous tries that the Union were able to get the upper hand; made even more poignant in large part to the manner in which the Union got it done.
A pair of goals from forward Conor Casey and a clincher from second half substitute Antoine Hoppenot in the 88th minute secured the Union ( 7-5-4, 25 points) three vital points and bumped the club up to second place in a stingy Eastern Conference with a game in hand over New York.
“This game was a big game especially with the rivalry that we have with New York,” said defender Sheanon Williams. “It’s been pounded into our head all week that all the fans wanted – all anybody wanted is for us to beat the Red Bulls. They’ve given it to us a few times so it was nice to repay the favor and get them back.”
It was the Union that set the tone against a New York (7-6-4, 25 points) side devoid of three standout players in midfielders Juninho (yellow card accumulation), Tim Cahill (international duty) and defender Jamison Olave (suspension). And although world class striker Thierry Henry roamed the expansive pitch at PPL Park, it was the Union that showed class creating numerous chances – most notably putting away three.
Casey opened the account in just the seventh minute, finishing off a curling in-swinging cross from Sheanon Williams. In the 64th, Casey was at it again, finishing off a deflected shot from Keon Daniel. Casey cut into the box just above the six, and used his left boot to slot the ball past New York goalkeeper Luis Robles.
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“As a forward obviously you want to score and the most important thing is to put the work in,” Casey said postgame. “Jack [McInerney] has put the work in all year and it’s good for the other guys like me to come in and take the load off of him…today was good for a lot of different reasons.”
The goal for Casey was his fifth of the MLS regular season and his third of the year against New York, scoring in a 2-1 loss at Red Bull Arena on March 30. Hoppenot closed the affair finishing off a nice run down the right flank from Sebastien Le Toux. Drawing defenders, Le Toux smartly played the ball to the top of the box to an awaiting Hoppenot who buried his second of the season.
A bit of a sour taste was left however as the status of Danny Cruz is unknown. Cruz the victim of a vicious tackle from Red Bulls midfielder Lloyd Sam in the 28th minute picked up was called a right ankle sprain as a result. Cruz told philadelphiaunion.com that it felt “sore” but that he’ll “be good.”
When he’ll be good to resume will be determined after he is evaluated by the Union training staff and team doctors this week.
The Union’s tough stretch of games continues next Saturday when the club hosts FC Dallas (5:30 p.m., purchase tickets). With the win over Red Bulls, fans can get discounted tickets to the next three Union home matches by logging onto philadelphiaunion.com/promo and using the code BEATNY.
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Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at email@example.com