Match recap: Rookie Ribeiro is catalyst in Union draw against rival Red Bulls at PPL Park

 

Call this a hard-earned point.

Battling the elements, which included starting the match one hour later because of heavy rain, the Philadelphia Union rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force a 2-2 draw against their heated rivals, the New York Red Bulls, before an announced paid crowd of 18,091 at soggy PPL Park on Saturday.

Pedro Ribeiro scored in the 41st minute and Sebastien Le Toux converted a penalty kick at the end of stoppage time in the second half after Ribeiro was taken down in the box.

Le Toux is now 13 for 13 on PKs with the Union.

The result pushed the Union’s record to 9-9-10 (37 points) and extended their unbeaten streak to four (3-0-1). Philadelphia sits in fifth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race, one point behind the Red Bulls (9-8-11, 38 points).

With the U.S. Open Cup title match looming Tuesday night against Seattle Sounders FC, this point was immense.

“It felt like a playoff game,” Union interim manager Jim Curtin said.

Absolutely.

The match was delayed until 4:25 p.m. because of unsafe playing conditions. When it kicked off, both clubs played like fierce rivals.

New York jumped out to a 1-0 advantage in the 37th minute when Peguy Luyindula scored on a penalty kick following a foul by Philadelphia’s Ethan White.

Thierry Henry made it 2-0 in the 40th minute when his shot deflected on Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath and into the goal.

But the Union never stopped hustling and Ribeiro notched his first career league goal in the 41st minute, cutting the lead to 2-1.

“It felt great to score,” Ribeiro said. “I was so happy to be contributing, and to get a goal like that to help the club just felt great. More than that, I was happy we got a point. We need as many points as possible here with every game.”

Curtin brought in Le Toux, Cristian Maidana and Vincent Nogueira as his three substitutes in this match.

The Union pushed the tempo in the second half and it paid dividends when Ribeiro forced a call in the box as he was hit by Ibrahim Sekagya.

Le Toux came through with another clutch PK.

“We wanted to come out of here with three points, so it’s a bit disappointing,” Le Toux said. “But we came back to get a point and now we have the Open Cup. We’ll take it.”

The Union took a point because of how they played – hard-nosed and aggressive. They finished with nine corner kicks compared to none for the Red Bulls.

“We’re a confident club,” Ribeiro said. “We just had to keep pushing and keep pushing. We were able to get a result at the end.”

Getting a result on Tuesday would mean the first trophy in the near five-year history of the Union. Leaving this match with one point will give the Union extra confidence and momentum.

“I think so,” said midfielder and captain Brian Carroll. “As a group, we never gave up. We hustled, worked hard and it turned into a point for us. I think it’s always a confidence booster when you work hard and get rewarded with something. This group has worked hard every day in training and we believe we’re going to get results. I think we’re all excited for the Open Cup final.”

What did you think of this match against New York? Leave a comment below.

Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at andy.jasner@yahoo.com


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