New York City FC got an early goal from Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and rode that lead to a 3-1 victory over Philadelphia Union Wednesday night in the knockout round of the MLS Eastern Conference playoffs. NYCFC will face Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference semifinals this weekend.
The teams began evenly, with Ale Bedoya cutting out the lanes to the center that NYC exploited on Sunday. New York City continued to overload the Union’s right and look to stretch the back four.
The home team broke through in the 10th minute through a whipped volley by Tajouri-Shradi. After New York City turned over Philly in the attacking half, Moralez played a curling ball to David Villa who let it run to Tajouri-Shradi. The winger, who was left out of the first eleven on Sunday, hit a first time half-volley that sizzled past Andre Blake.
The Union nearly responded two minutes later when Ale Bedoya got deep on the right and cut the ball back for Cory Burke. The Jamaican’s shot was off but Bedoya had already been flagged offside.
NYC was immediately back on the front foot and Moralez got free on the right and centered for Villa. Mark McKenzie was quickly out to block the captain’s shot and the deflected ball fell to Ronald Matarrita who fired wide as he fell down.
In the 20th minute, David Villa thought he had NYC’s second but Moralez had already been flagged offside earlier in the play.
Nearly opened their scoring on the night through a set piece. Borek Dockal’s corner kick was nodded wide at the back post by Fafa Picault though, and New York City was off the hook.
The home side did get their second in the 26th minute. New York City dispossessed Rosenberry deep in their own half and quickly played an outlet to Moralez. The playmaker centered to Villa and he hooked a left-footed shot past Blake.
Before halftime, the Union had one more chance to cut the lead in half. Bedoya once again got down the right and cut the ball back, this time for Warren Creavalle. The midfielder tried to drag the ball toward the left post but missed wide.
Jim Curtin summoned Ilsinho at halftime and dropped Creavalle, a move that pushed Bedoya back to the center.
It was NYC that had the first chance of the half, though. Alex Ring made a hard late run through the center and arrived at the right time, but McKenzie stepped in front at the final moment.
Fafa Picault was nearly able to get on the board in the 58th minute when he ran onto Haris Medunjanin’s throughball and held off Maxime Chanot. The winger’s shot, however, was pushed away by Johnson.
The Union continued to prod the home defense. Ilsinho scooped a pass over the defense to Rosenberry but the fullback was just offside, then the Brazilian roared down the right but caught a toe in the turf as he entered the box and tumbled over.
In the 66th minute, Cory Burke latched onto a lofted throughball down the middle but after controlling it with his chest, the big striker couldn’t put a shot on frame. CJ Sapong entered the match as the Union moved to a 3-5-2 shape as they had on Sunday. Ilsinho moved to a right wingback roll and Sapong played on the left, pushing Fafa Picault up top.
Burke once again was a threat through the air as he connected with a Dockal corner kick in the 76th minute, but the Jamaican couldn’t get over the ball and once again it looped over the goal.
Moments later, Maxi Moralez went through on goal when Tinnerholm placed the ball behind Philadelphia’s back three. Blake was caught off his line and Moralez lifted home New York’s third.
Philly responded in the 83rd minute when Ilsinho beat half the New York City team and centered for Burke to smash home from close range.
It wasn’t enough for Philly to come back, though, and Moralez had another chance to chip Blake before the match finished.
Robert Sibiga blew the final whistle to end the match and the Union’s season. Although they fell short, Philly reached the 50 point mark for the first time in history and showed signs of progress from the academy all the way through to the first team that they will look to build on in the offseason.