Match Recap

Gazdag pushes Union's unbeaten streak to 10 against rival Red Bulls


Daniel Gazdag converted from the penalty spot as Philadelphia Union knocked off rivals New York Red Bulls, 1-0 on Saturday night.

After a length VAR check, the Union midfielder calmly slotted it past the keeper to push the Union’s unbeaten streak against their Eastern Conference rival to double digits for the first time in the series.

The rivalry matchup has seen tight margins determine the winner between the two Eastern Conference foes as both sides play with a controlled chaos of pressing after every single pass to put an opponent on their heels. With every touch crucial Head Coach Jim Curtin made three changes to the Starting XI, after the cross country trip from Los Angeles on Tuesday evening, inserting center back Damion Lowe and homegrowns Nathan Harriel and Quinn Sullivan into the match.

The hosts earned the first corner of the contest two minutes into the match and appealed for more than a set piece as Damion Lowe encountered the ball at the end line. A quick check saw nothing egregious and play resumed with a near post header from the Red Bulls going wide of Andre Blake.

It didn’t take long for the end to end action to pick up with both sides trading tremendous scoring chances early on. Just past the sixth minute the Boys in Blue went direct with a ball blasted over the midfield toward Julian Carranza on the left side of the attack. The Argentinian played another forward pass to the Sullivan who sent a sharp cross across the face of goal toward but just out of reach from Daniel Gazdag.

New York Red Bull countered two minutes later as Elias Manoel drifted out wide to pull MLS Defender of the Year Jakob Glesnes out of position. Taking an extra touch, outside back John Tolkin picked out Omir Fernandes’ run into the created space but fired a curler wide of the Union goal. A few minutes later Tolkin decided to have go for the opening goal but was turned aside with leaping effort from Andre Blake.

Lowe started to make an impression on the match in the 22nd minute of play, making crucial tackles to spark offensive counter attacks for the Union.  The first came off a build up from the hosts with the Jamaican defender stepping up with his man into the midfield. Knowing that the opponent would target the space behind, he made a clutch tackle against Christian Casseres to end the play. Defense became offense with Jack McGlynn quickly on the ball and sending a volley toward Sullivan on the left side of the attack. The homegrown again went for the centering pass toward Gazdag but saw it blocked away. The half clearance put the ball right at the feet of Carranza who took a single touch to set up a left-footed blast that was blocked near the edge of the six.

In the 26th minute again it was Lowe up higher on the pitch but this time for Union free kick. After the Red Bulls cleared it away, Lowe successfully regained possession for the Boys in Blue and went to work like a midfielder. Pressured from the side, he laid it for Carranza who looked for a combination play with team captain Alejandro Bedoya. The Union midfielder slowed down the play and then sent it back to Carranza who took a touch into the box but was taken down by Red Bulls’ defender Dylan Nealis. Quickly the hosts appealed for the referee to have a look at the play and the Video Assistant Referee obliged. A lengthy review process took place with every single angle possible at Red Bull Arena viewed that ultimately saw the original call of a penalty upheld. After a five minute wait at the penalty spot, Union midfielder Daniel Gazdag kept his composure and sent the keeper the wrong way with a right-footed finish to the keeper’s right for the 1-0 lead.

With the opening goal pushing them on, the Union knew the New Jersey side sought to equalize before the break. The pressure saw a yellow card issued to Leon Flach in the 36th minute of play but the Boys in Blue remained compact to stifle any real look for a first-half tying goal.

As the Red Bulls pushed for that goal, direct counter attacking began the path forward which plays perfectly into the Union’s style. Just before the halftime whistle, the Union got into a strong position after Carranza forced a turnover with the home side committing numbers forward for a free kick chance. With a 3v2 chance starting at the center stripe, the forward threaded a pass to send Gazdag into the right channel to which the Hungarian went for the deft pass inside that was cleared away.

The New Jersey hosts came out of the break continued to push numbers forward and into Philly’s defensive third. After the Union absorbed nearly 10 minutes of the Red Bulls into the attack, the Boys in Blue found an outlet in the 56th minute to counter up the right side of the pitch. A pass on wide ended up with Bedoya racing into the open field but saw his cross stopped by a Tolkin hand ball. Wagner came over for the free kick chance directly situated between the corner flag and Red Bulls’ 18-yard box. The German left back opted for the hard pass on the grass seeing the ball deflect into the path of Harriel. With half a second to react, the Union homgrown redirected it on frame with a right-footed touch but saw denied by a reaction stop by former Union goalkeeper Carlos Miguel Coronel.

With the chances set to come even more on the counter, Curtin made his first chance of the night bringing on the pace of Mikael Uhre for Sullivan. Meanwhile the Red Bulls countered with fresh attacking pieces of their own as Wikelman Carmona and Tom Barlow took to the pitch. After a Tolkin focus in the first half, the second half saw the Red Bulls look to their former Union forward Cory Burke to deliver a goal. Battling Lowe for the majority of the night in 1v1 aerial duels, the Jamaican nearly made something from nothing the 64th minute. As the Union sought to build from the back, Red Bulls’ pressed to forced a pass to Blake. Outside the box, the three-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year took a quick touch to his left and collided with Burke which drew a yellow card.

In the 73rd minute the hosts got their best opportunity of the night as Cameron Harper served up a cross from the right side of the field for the back post. The volley snuck over the punch from Blake and connected with Burke but the forward’s header went wide.

As the clock ticked up and up so did the pressure on the homeside as they continued to float crosses into the box targeting headed finishes against Lowe, Glesnes and Blake. Just before second-half added time, the shouts came for another VAR look as Cassares Jr. sent a cross into the box that saw Burke and Lowe slide for a touch. Neither came away with it as it bounced high into the box and Sean Nealis battled for a look. The ball came down in and saw a clutch block directly at the edge of the six from Glesnes that hit the Norwegian in chest and out for a throw.

Philadelphia Union is back in action Tuesday night as it begins its journey in the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on the road at Minnesota United FC for a Round of 32 contest. Kick off from Minnesota is set for 8:30 p.m. ET with the action broadcast for free on the B/R Football YouTube channel and the Bleacher Report app.