For half an hour there were no shots on goal as the Union and Red Bulls went head to head for the first time since Philly’s epic playoff comeback over their rivals.
Then Kacper Przybylko struck, and the Union held on for an ugly, gritty, impressive win.
Przybylko partnered with Andrew Wooten up top and Jakob Glesnes entered in back replacing Jack Elliott. Kai Wagner also returned from injury to regain his spot at left back.
Coming off a derby win at home, Red Bulls built a line behind Daniel Royer and Brian White, with Tim Parker and Aaron Long securing the defense.
From the outset, both teams struggled to fight through the chaotic center of the park and create transition chances. Alejandro Bedoya and Jose Martinez tried their luck from distance but couldn’t find the target as New York threw their bodies in front of shots. Brenden Aaronson also had a whack from outside the box but once again a flying defender sent it away from goal.
And then it happened.
Ray Gaddis pushed up through the center, Bedoya dropped deep, and Andrew Wooten pulled wide. Martinez found Wooten and the striker pushed the ball up the line for Gaddis. A bit of fancy footwork from the fullback opened a lane for a cross and Przybylko drifted in behind Aaron Long for a simple finish.
In extra time of the first half, Przybylko nearly got a second. Off a Jamiro Monteiro corner kick, Glesnes challenged for a ball in the center of the box and Przybylko pounced on it in space but couldn’t drive his shot past Ryan Meara.
Following a Mark McKenzie turnover, Tom Barlow had an opening through the right channel. McKenzie’s quick recovery rushed the striker’s shot, and Andre Blake pushed the shot away easily.
Przybylko’s third chance came in the 68th minute off a stunning pass from Brenden Aaronson through the center. The homegrown’s ball sliced open the defense and Przybylko took it with a lovely turn at full speed before lifting his shot over Meara’s bar.
Sergio Santos’ late entry created more chances for the Union but the Brazilian couldn’t drill one home. A right-footed blast from the center was collected by Meara and then a wild header in the 79th minute skimmed around the far corner.
At the final whistle, the result reflected the match. The Union were the better side, created the most chances, and smothered Red Bulls’ limp attack.
Next up for Philly’s finest is a showdown with rival DC United on August 29th at 7:30 p.m. live on PHL17 and PhiladelphiaUnion.com.