MATCH RECAP: Union set focus on playoffs

Philadelphia fell 3-1 at Yankee Stadium to NYCFC. Given the other results in the Eastern Conference, the Union are now set to face New York City again midweek for a knockout round playoff matchup.

A wild and open first half saw NYCFC leap out to a 2-0 lead inside of ten minutes. First, Maxime Chanot nodded in a corner kick from Maxi Moralez in the eighth minute, then Auston Trusty’s sliding attempt to clear a ball out of the box instead lodged it in the far corner of Andre Blake’s net.

New York City was finding success by overloading the Union right and keeping a player high and against the far touchline. This allowed the home side to put Philly’s defensive line under pressure if they could create space in midfield, and they did so often for the first half hour.

In the 12th minute, NYCFC crossed the ball toward Anton Tinnerholm streaking up the right. He was put behind the Union like with a dinked ball over the top but aimed a cutback cross just behind David Villa.

Tinnerholm was back on the ball moments later and this time cut back to Ronald Matarrita. Mark McKenzie blocked the Costa Rican’s effort and a follow-up by Jesus Medina was saved by Andre Blake.

The Union climbed back into the match in the 14th minute when Fafa Picault and Borek Dockal worked through the center and Dockal slid a perfect ball through to Cory Burke to finish.

Due to a slight deflection on the pass that didn’t change the direction or intent of the play, Dockal was not awarded an assist.

Fafa Picault grabbed momentum from the goal and beat two men up the left, but his cross to the back post was headed clear.

At halftime, Jim Curtin replaced a visibly frustrated Cory Burke with Ilsinho and shifted CJ Sapong up top but it was the home side that came out as the aggressor. First, Maxi Moralez broke down the right channel and Blake had to parry his effort. Then McKenzie had to be aware to block away Villa’s shot after Matarrita found him with a cut back.

The Union gathered themselves and began clawing back into the game. A Dockal corner was headed on frame by Picault and Johnson did brilliantly to keep the ball out. Then, in the 56th minute, Medunjanin picked out Bedoya at the back post with a sensational pass, but the Union captain’s could not redirect the ball on frame.

In the 59th minute, Ilsinho snuck up the right, received a pass from Dockal and played Bedoya in the center. Bedoya nutmegged a defender and found Sapong in alone, but the ball rolled by the striker and he was chasing it when Johnson pulled him down for a penalty.

Fafa Picault stepped to the spot and went left, but Johnson was down well to save the attempt.

The Union moved to a 3-5-2 shape and continued pressuring the Light Blues, with Gaddis, McKenzie, and Trusty asked to do essential defensive work in back. Ilsinho sped up the right once more in the 75th to force a good low save from Johnson, but Philly could not find the goals they needed to even the scoreline.

The Union will return to Yankee Stadium midweek for a playoff match against New York City FC and a chance at quick revenge. Stay tuned for a final date and time to be released by the league soon.

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