Casey’s brace lifts Union past 10-man Red Bulls

Keon Daniel, Conor Casey, Sebastien Le Toux

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By JOEL HOOVER

CHESTER, Pa.– After more than two years and five disappointing results, the Philadelphia Union have finally reminded their fans what it feels like to beat the New York Red Bulls.

A brace from Conor Casey, coupled with a controversial red card for New York’s Lloyd Sam, helped guide the Union to a 3-0 win over the Red Bulls in front of 19,013 at PPL Park. The victory was Philadelphia’s first over the Red Bulls since a 1-0 victory on April 9th, 2011.

On a night when the normally reliable Jack McInerney struggled to put away the numerous chances that came his way, it was Casey who picked up the scoring slack, scoring goals in each half to drive the Union to their second straight 3-0 victory.

Antoine Hoppenot rounded off the scoreline with a late finish from the substitute’s bench in the 88th minute.

Handed consecutive league starts for the first time since early May, Casey headed home the opener for the Union in the seventh minute on a cross served in from Sheanon Williams, then doubled his tally in the 64th minute with a finish off a rebound from a Keon Daniel shot.

Hoppenot added a third from a low cross from Sebastien Le Toux in the 88th minute to give the Union their most lopsided win over the Red Bulls in team history.

“We needed this kind of win,” manager John Hackworth said in postgame. “We needed to beat someone above us in the table and to really make sure we played a complete game. I’m not saying it was a complete game, but the performance and what we did for 90-plus minutes was really important for this club.”

The two goals give Casey three in his last two league matches, a deserved return after a strong game playing at the target and giving Markus Holgersson and Heath Pearce a difficult time in defense.

“We had a lot of chances throughout the game,” Casey said afterward. “As long as we’re creating chances, that says a lot about the direction the team is going.”

Such chances were created and utilized despite an off game from the league’s joint-top scorer Jack McInerney, who had several golden opportunities saved by New York goalkeeper Luis Robles.

New York’s midfield and defense struggled from the onset, clearly missing suspended midfielder Juninho and defender Jamison Olave, as well as injured midfielder Tim Cahill. Without their help, the Red Bulls lacked cohesion in both defense and attack, misplacing several passes and struggling to space themselves properly.

Such absences were further compounded in the 28th minute, when midfielder Lloyd Sam was issued a red card after appearing to step on sliding Union midfielder Danny Cruz. The referee issue him a straight red, while an injured Cruz would eventually need to be subbed off just a few minutes later.

“I thought it was a hard challenge, where two guys were definitely laying their bodies on the line,” Hackworth said of the card. “I have not seen it to know what it looks like, but it does change a game.”

In spite of some initial New York pressure following the red, the Union took control of possession and the chances in the second half, forcing Thierry Henry to drop deeper and deeper into the midfield and leaving the visitors’ attack blunted.

“It took us a little bit to get used to the new formation they were playing,” said Union defender Sheanon Williams. “I thought we could have done a little better once we went up a man, but we came in at halftime, made some adjustments, and I thought we did much better.”

After Casey’s second took the air out of the game, the Union continued to press for more goals, which substitute Antoine Hoppenot delivered in the 88th minute. The young forward steered home a finish off Sebastien Le Toux’s cross to pick up just his second league goal of the season, both coming from the substitute’s bench.

“It’s all about confidence,” Hoppenot said. “I got a few goals in the past few friendlies and that really helped me gain some confidence in front of goal. It paid off today.”

The Union now look ahead to their upcoming home fixture with West contenders FC Dallas this Saturday at PPL Park, while New York will host Houston this coming Sunday. Both teams also have an eye on their final fixture against each other, which comes August 17 at Red Bull Arena.

“A goal of this year was trying to make sure we are competitive in these little series’, and now it’s even (with New York),” Hackworth said. “I think the last game of the season against them is going to be a huge one.”

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15 Responses to Casey’s brace lifts Union past 10-man Red Bulls

  1. BrianK says:

    Made the trip down from Central New Jersey to PPL.

    PPL is nice,…intimate with the Commodore Barry bridge as a nice backdrop. Philly supporters were great,…the stadium was packed.

    Obviously the red card changed the game but,…the Union were sharp and looked the better team regardless. I must say I cannot stand when the stadiums do not show replays on key plays. I paid $200 for tickets,…and I can’t see a f&cking replay? Better off watching at home perhaps?

    • Vic says:

      Yeah $200 is a lot for MLS tickets unless they’re season tickets. Red Bull had a watch party in Hoboken, NJ. Large screens with a NYC view. Decent turnout but not as good as last year.

  2. Tim F. says:

    I did not feel that play was worthy of a red card for Sam. How do others feel?

    • ThisGuy says:

      I didn’t see a double-footed tackle as others suggest

    • Two feet both studs up. I didn’t see any other call that could be made in the situation. I’m a union fan so maybe I’m showing my bias but if he hadn’t made that call i wouldve been livid. A no-call changes the game just as much and ruins a lot of union momentum by taking cruzs speed off the field.

      • PD says:

        one could argue Cruz did as much to put himself in that position as Sam did. Not sure if I call that a straight red.

    • wagner says:

      Could go either way on that but can’t argue with the red. Studs up and the Philly player knocked out of the game. In real time it looked bad for Sam. I think it was an awkward play – sorry Cruz got hurt.

      Upon a few slow mo replays I think Sam pulled up and slipped and raised his studs on 1 foot. I think he was trying to avoid getting hurt by an agressive (not reckless) Cruz. Sam would have been better off jumping over Cruz and letting him send the ball back into Phillys defensive end.

      • Walmsley says:

        While I could see a yellow vs. red, I think you have to look at the player reactions. I did not see anyone, including the coach, contest the red card. They are seeing things in “real time” like the ref and as such, I think the on field reaction tells a lot.

  3. Esteban de la Sexface says:

    Was at the game and just some random thoughts:

    - Best the Union have played all season.
    - Shame that it’s taken Hackworth & co. this long to figure out that Le Toux needs to start. Philly’s a different team with him on the right.
    - This game should’ve been done and dusted by half. Philly bossed the game from the beginning and even though New York started to get into it a bit more, Philly should’ve scored at least twice in the first.
    - Second game in a row that McInerney failed to put away some chances.
    - Cruz looked really good until he got injured. Le Toux on the other side looks like it frees up some space for Cruz.
    - Conor Casey and Jeff Parke have been fantastic additions and kudos to the front office for getting them.

  4. Brain Guy says:

    Can’t really pin the loss on him, but Robles could have done better on both of the first two goals. Even more than the elusive playmaker, RBNY have long lacked that steady presence in goal. Is Robles a championship keeper?

  5. Pete says:

    Why no one here mentioned the no call on obvious pk ….seriously what we need to do this year to get the call in the box . This is 9 or 10th time that calls like that would be called against us .

  6. Even my table of Union supporters at the pub weren’t entirely sure about the red. My first instinct seeing the play live and full speed was that Cruz was late and was the one guilty of the foul. Sam almost looked like he was trying to stop himself to avoid contact. Just a weird situation either way.

    As for the non-PK, Henry was pretty transparent in his intent was to draw the contact from Okugo rather than beat him. No sympathy for the RBNY fans who wanted that call.

    Overall, it’s nice to see the Union playing as well as they are. They have just enough talent to challenge in an admittedly weak Eastern Conference, and I have to be happy with the fact that they’re above teams like KC and NY who have arguably more talent to work with. I just wish that Farfan could be the player we expected him to be a few seasons ago and that we had some CB depth. Carlos Bocanegra would be an excellent pipe dream for this team, but I don’t see Sugarman or Nick S spending the cash.

  7. Esteban de la Sexface says:

    John Hackworth needs to find new clothes, especially his shirts. He’s too slight for the shirts he buys and it looks like he’s wearing a type of blouse/puffy pirate shirt combo. He should purchase fitted shirts or take his current ones to a tailor. Also when he rolls up his sleeves, he needs to go above the elbow. A roll to mid-forearm makes the over-size shirt issue even worse. Hackworth should take a lesson from Mike Petke who looked sharp in a casual but cool getup.

  8. Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

    I’m so late to this that no one will ever read this and I only saw the lowlights, but NYRB looked really bad. Pearce looked lost on every play. How did they look when you saw the whole game? I know the red card changed everything. It didn’t look like a straight red to me but I had the benefit of replay, refs don’t.