HARRISON, NJ — The Philadelphia Union fell 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls on Thursday night, concluding their 2011 regular season with a 11-8-15 record.
The Union will now await their playoff seeding and hope that either the Columbus Crew or Houston Dynamo fail to win this weekend, which would give the Union a top three seed in the East, a wild card bye, and a home playoff game.
Dane Richards emerged as the hero for New York at Red Bull Arena as his 7th-minute header — which was credited as a Faryd Mondragón own goal — stood as the game-winner.
New York dominated possession in the first half, as the Union struggled to create chances.
The Red Bulls broke through early when Richards found space in the six-yard box and sent his header off a pinpoint Solli cross into the post. The ball then rebounded off Mondragón’s back before trickling over the goal line and into the net.
New York almost made it 2-0 in the 16th minute, when the striking duo of Richards and Luke Rodgers combined to force Mondragón into a fantastic reaction save. Rodgers played a perfectly weighted pass for Richards, who used his pace to get away from the Union defense, but Mondragón parried it away for a corner.
In the 42nd minute, Mondragón came up big again when Stephen Keel’s forward pass found Rodgers, who flicked a pass to the onrushing Lindpere. The Union captain flew off his line to make a sprawling save and keep Philadelphia in the match.
After struggling to get going offensively in the first 45, the Union made two changes at the break. Danny Mwanga and Freddy Adu replaced Amobi Okugo and Zach Pfeffer to try and spark Philadelphia's offense.
Just two minutes after coming on, Mwanga did just that, cutting in from the left flank before unleashing a strike that flew wide of Frank Rost’s left hand post.
Philadelphia piled on the pressure in the final 30 minutes in search of an equalizer, with the Union’s best effort coming off a Le Toux free kick that Valdes appeared to head home for an equalizer. However, the center back was judged to be in an offside position.
The loss snapped Philadelphia's club record eight-game unbeaten run.
NY -- Dane Richards 7 (Jan Gunnar Solli 7, Dax McCarty 6) 8'
NY -- Teemu Tainio (caution; Reckless Foul) 29
PHI -- Brian Carroll (caution; Reckless Tackle) 55
NY -- Luke Rodgers (caution; Dissent) 66
Philadelphia Union -- Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan, Amobi Okugo (Freddy Adu 46), Zach Pfeffer (Danny Mwanga 46), Brian Carroll, Justin Mapp (Roger Torres 70), Sebastien Le Toux, Michael Farfan.
Substitutes Not Used: Jack McInerney, Stefani Miglioranzi, Kyle Nakazawa, Zac MacMath.
New York Red Bulls -- Frank Rost, Jan Gunnar Solli, Stephen Keel, Tim Ream, Roy Miller, Dax McCarty, Rafael Marquez, Teemu Tainio, Joel Lindpere, Luke Rodgers (Juan Agudelo 89), Dane Richards.
Substitutes Not Used: Stephane Auvray, Mehdi Ballouchy, Corey Hertzog, Matt Kassel, Carlos Mendes, Bouna Coundoul.
Referee: Mark Geiger
Referee's Assistants: -Eric Proctor; Daniel Belleau
4th Official: Drew Fischer
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-59-degrees