Two penalties followed by two Valentin Castellanos goals helped New York City FC to a home win over Philadelphia Union at Yankee Stadium Saturday night. Ilsinho and Fafa Picault entered the lineup for the Union while NYC was without star striker Heber. 

New York City FC’s high back line — with Alex Ring repeatedly dropping in to form a five-man unit — meant the Union had opportunities to progress by isolating in wide areas. Fafa Picault took advantage in the fourth minute with a speed move past Sebastian Ibeagha that created the opportunity to cut back in the center. The clearance was simple, but the warning had been issued. 

Three minutes later, the Union again worked up their left side. This time, Jamiro Monteiro lifted a cross into the box that Picault collected and finished with a spinning, unstoppable drive. 

New York City sought to regain control of the match by holding the ball in their back line and playing long passes into midfield. 

When they found their front three in enough space to turn, NYC created dangerous 2v1s on the wings using advancing fullbacks. 

The hosts threatened off a corner kick in the 18th minute, but Maxime Chanot’s near post header was directly at Matt Freese. 

In the 21st minute, however, New York City was level. A long ball out of the back was misplayed by Jack Elliott and Valentin Castellanos ran onto it. The striker cut away from Auston Trusty and fell over, earning a penalty call. Maxi Moralez finishes from the spot. 

Just before the half-hour mark, the Union responded. Ilsinho broke free up the right after creating space for himself, and the winger’s cross from the endline was flicked backwards by Monteiro. Kacper Przybylko glided up to the bouncing ball and — fittingly for the venue — ripped a line drive past Brad Stuver. 

The Union were forced to make a substitution after Ilsinho received a cut to the face on a challenge with Chanot, but they went into the half up a goal. 

Ten minutes into the second half, Castellanos was down in the box again. As he cut to his left, the striker was shouldered off the ball by Ale Bedoya. Castellanos’ head shot back as he went down and he was awarded another penalty that Moralez once again finished past Freese. This time the Union goalie guessed correctly but saw the ball squirt under his glove. 

With the score tied at two, the teams exchanged blows as the hosts increasingly looked to push Philly back in the middle. The breakthrough finally came in the 71st when Moralez pivoted atop the box and found Castellanos on the left. The striker ripped a first time shot into the near post corner to give his side the lead. Seven minutes later, a beautiful combination play up the center ended with Castellanos on the ball in front of goal. He dinked a finish over Freese for the final tally of the match. 

The Union return to action on Wednesday when they travel to face Nani and Orlando City SC.

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