The New York Red Bulls were knocked out of the 2019 MLS Playoffs after suffering a 4-3 defeat Sunday to the Philadelphia Union. Philadelphia’s Marco Fabián scored the game-winning goal in the first half of extra time to seal the comeback victory. The Union, with the win, book a second round match with red hot Atlanta United next week.
The Red Bulls dominated the first half, both controlling possession and scoring three goals in the first 45 minutes. New York’s Josh Sims recorded his first MLS goal since transferring from Premier League club Southampton in August. Playing off an interception, Sims, with the ball at his feet, hit a laser from just outside the penalty box to Union goalkeeper Andre Blake’s left. Though he got fingertips to it, the velocity was too much and found the back of the net.
Tim Parker and Tom Barlow also found their names on the scoresheet in the first half, both scoring from set pieces and owing a debt to goalkeeping errors from Blake. Parker’s goal saw Blake badly mistime a jump and miss the interception from a Red Bulls’ corner. Barlow’s goal came off a missed punch from a Marc Rzatkowski free kick which found its way to the Red Bull forward’s feet from three yards out. The Union did show some fight, however, as Alejandro Bedoya scored in the 30’ to cut the deficit.
The second half began with the Red Bulls leading 3-1 but Philadelphia looking much more the dangerous side. When Jack Elliott scored off a rebound in the 52’ from a Sergio Santos header that hit off the crossbar, the momentum swing was palpable and New York could not seem to get it back. The possession was all Philadelphia’s and the Red Bulls could not reestablish it to launch a formidable attack.
Fafa Picault’s header in the 78’ was the tipping point. Out jumping defender Tim Parker, Picault was able to time his run perfectly to Sergio Santos’ cross and catch Bulls keeper Luis Robles on the wrong foot. The home fans at Talen Energy Stadium, who’s team had come from the brink of a home defeat and were already soaked from a day of steady rain, released a typhoon of emotions. Neither team were able to secure the victory in regulation and the game proceeded to extra time with the game level at three goals a piece.
The game winning goal was credited to Marco Fabián at the end of the first half of extra time. Fabián was at the far side of the penalty box when he received a cross-field pass from Picault. He hit a right-footed chip that looked to be more like a pass than a shot and seemed to take a slight deflection off of Marc Rzatkowski. Regardless of a deflection or not, the ball caught Robles off guard and found its way into the near corner of the net.
New York could not find an answering goal and, with that, the 2019 season for the Red Bulls is in the books. Philadelphia, meanwhile, will prepare for a trip down to Georgia to face Josef Martínez and Atlanta United on Thursday.
By Nick Sbordone