MATCH RECAP: Union notch 2-0 win over NYCFC

Philadelphia Union flattened New York City FC 2-0 Saturday night behind goals from Cory Burke and Ilsinho. Borek Dockal had two assists to give him 12 on the season as the home side outplayed David Villa and the third place Sky Blues throughout the match. After a tight opening half, Philly took control and when Ronald Matarrita was dismissed in extra time for a childish kick out at Ilsinho, it was a fitting end for a New York City team that never looked like challenging for the three points.

Jim Curtin replaced the suspended Fafa Picault with David Accam and kept CJ Sapong on the right wing next to Cory Burke. Jack Elliott continued in defense as Mark McKenzie remains sidelined with a knee issue.

The visitors began with an unexpected 4-4-2 shape that pushed Maxi Moralez to the right wing and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi to the left behind Jo Inge Berget and David Villa.  

New York City came out with a focus on getting behind the Union’s high back line. In the second minute, Berget checked off of Jack Elliott and let the ball ride; Villa gave chase and ended up in a foot race with Auston Trusty. The Spaniard cut the ball back then laid it off for Maxi Moralez to fire a threatening shot at Andre Blake from the top of the box. Blake parried it away and gave the Union a chance to get their feet under them.

CJ Sapong was quickly involved in the action. In the third minute he turned his man and tried to get off a left-footed shot but was tripped from behind. Haris Medunjanin’s free kick was wide of the near post.

In the 10th minute, Moralez pressured Ray Gaddis as the fullback sought to head the ball back to Blake. NYC’s tiny winger nearly got a foot on the ball before Blake could grab it but the big Jamaican snatched the orb out of the air and held it safely.

David Accam sprung to life in the 13th minute. Collecting the ball in the center, he cut up two defenders but could not get his feet straight and the resulting shot rolled softly to Sean Johnson’s feet.

Seven minutes of back-and-forth play followed, then Villa showed his class to create a yard of space from Jack Elliott at the top of the box. The ageless striker ripped a left-footed blast at Blake but again the Union goalie was prepared and gathered cleanly.

The Union used Borek Dockal to take Alex Ring out of NYC’s buildup play, and the Sky Blues began dropping Ebenezer Ofori deep to help get out of the back. Meanwhile, the Union patiently used Blake and bypassed NYC’s high pressure by playing balls to CJ Sapong, who consistently won his aerial battles with NYC left back Ben Sweat.

The Union were nearly in front in the 25th minute when a corner kick found its way to the back post. Sapong put a leg on it and the ball looked to be headed for the goal before Berget stuck out a foot to knock it out of play.

In the 32nd minute, Berget touched the ball around Elliott wide to the left. Blake came out too late to beat the striker to the spot and he was caught in space when NYC cut the ball back to the center. The net was wide open, but Ray Gaddis tracked back and intercepted the pass that would have led to an easy finish.

New York City switched their wings to start the second half, pushing Berget to the left and Tajouri-Shradi to the right, but it was a Union winger that nearly drew first blood. Cory Burke knocked an aerial ball down to Borek Dockal and the Czech playmaker found Accam flying down the left channel. Accam cut onto his right and curled a shot just wide of the far post.

Philly had another huge opportunity in the 51st minute when Dockal turned his man just inside the box on the right and lunged to touch the ball central to Sapong. With space around him, Sapong lifted the ball over the goal frame.

Then, in the 56th minute, the Union’s strong play finally earned the goal it deserved. Ale Bedoya recovered the ball in midfield, drew in a defender and found Borek Dockal. The Union’s No. 10 played in Burke, and the Jamaican put the ball on his right foot, opened his body, and rolled it into the far corner to give his team the lead.

In the 63rd minute, New York City nearly responded through substitute Jesus Medina. After Jack Elliott was pulled upfield, the young winger ducked into the space left behind and drove at goal. Rosenberry tracked Medina from behind, and the New York City attacker suddenly fell down in the box. Play on said the referee.

Ilsinho returned to action after an injury layoff and completely wrecked NYC’s world. In the 76th minute, Rosenberry made a great run inside and played the ball to Dockal who, in turn, fed Ilsinho. From the right, the Brazilian swept through three defenders and danced to the edge of the six yard box where he prodded the ball beyond a stranded Sean Johnson. It was a breathtaking bit of skill from Ilsinho, and the embarrassment felt by Ronald Matarrita would boil over into a dismissal late in the match.

Neither team created good chances down the stretch, and Warren Creavalle came on in the 88th minute to give Dockal, who had two assists, the standing ovation he deserved.

Then, in extra time, Matarrita confronted Ilsinho, ostensibly for juking him so profoundly earlier in the game. After they were separated, Matarrita took the next opportunity he had to hack down the Brazilian and earn a deserved red card.

Including the US Open Cup semifinal win over Chicago Fire, the Union have now won three matches in a row by a combined 8-2 scoreline. They next face New England Revolution at Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday, August 25.

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