Union squander lead, man advantage in tie with Red Bulls – Delco Times

CHESTER — In terms of atmosphere and intensity, the matchup between the two teams who entered the Eastern Conference first and second on Saturday lived up to expectations.

Football, not so much, although that has become a given when the complementary styles of Union and New York Red Bulls meet.

Daniel Gazdag put the Union ahead two minutes into the second half and they were ready to move on when Dylan Nealis saw a second yellow card in the 55th minute. But a 65th-minute goal from Luquinhas gave the Red Bulls a 1-1 draw on Saturday night at Subaru Park.

Union forward Julian Carranza controls a ball in the first half of Saturday night’s game against the New York Red Bulls. (Submitted photo/Courtesy Philadelphia Union)

The Union celebrated an opening goal from Julian Carranza in the 80th minute, but it was correctly called offside.

The Union (5-1-5, 20 points) are now without a win in their last five games (0-1-4). They’ve given up leads in all five games.

“Terrible,” as Captain Alejandro Bedoya put it. “The fact that we tied that game with Red Bull against a man is kind of despicable, at least to me. I think this is a game we should win easily.”

However, the Union is unbeaten in eight games in a row against the Red Bulls (5-0-3), including the playoffs. There have been two or fewer goals in 11 of the last 14 games between the teams.

“It feels like three points are there for us and the little breaks aren’t going in our direction at the moment,” said manager Jim Curtin. “I have no doubts that these guys are not lacking in effort and work. They’ve worked so hard, they work tirelessly, they’ve put a lot into the game, they’re just as disappointed as everyone else. We feel we lost two points tonight; I think we’re all gone from that.”

The result ended the Red Bulls’ five-game winning streak en route to a season that broke an MLS record.

Anyone who expected great football was wrong from the start. For two teams abiding by the dictum of modern counter-pressing transitional football, the first half looked hectic at best and… like a battle of rock ’em sock ’em robots at worst, with teams in red and blue smashing instead of kicking punches. (Curtin called the opening 45 “a nothing where we basically cancel each other out.”) The midfields were mostly for show, that part of the field generally avoided by long hopeful passes, save for the occasional car crash in a tackle game , in which seven yellow cards were shown.

Union brought the game to life in a relatively clean – and rare – moment of football-like content in the 47th minute. Gazdag captured a second ball in midfield in front of the Red Bulls defence. He played a diagonal ball into Sergio Santos who pushed it back to Gazdag on the other side of the defense for a shot over the 90. It’s Gazdag’s sixth goal of the season.

“It was a good ball for me,” said Gazdag. “The first contact was easy. I saw that Sergio was next to me. I passed the ball to him and he knows me very well from the games we played together. And the one touch, he gave it back to me and I hit.”

Minutes later chaos broke out. A scrum started with a Carranza foul that led to some discussion after the final whistle. Two yellow cards were dealt and after the restart of play Dylan caught Nealis Santos high in the leg with his cleats for his second yellow card and received his marching orders in the 55th. Nealis’ first yellow came in the 25th, for a foul Carranza’s back in the middle of a bumpy first half.

From there, the chaos only spread. Union had two chances in an almighty scramble in the 59th round. A shot from Nathan Harriel was blocked in what the Union thought was a stray arm, although replay proved it wasn’t, then Gazdag went wide. Santos started that move, as did one a minute earlier that ended with a shot from Alejandro Bedoya.

It was not the first time this season that Union had to regret their waste. A simple ball on the counter, pocketed by Sub Cameron Harper, sent Luquinhas wide and the Brazilian made no mistake.

Given the style of play of the Red Bulls (5-2-4, 19 points), who are dogmatically anxious to almost never have possession of the ball, a Untermann is very helpful and gives them even more counterattack space. They appeared content with defense as they and Union came out as the tightest teams in MLS with eight goals allowed each.

The only place they were vulnerable was in set pieces, and that’s where Carranza seemed to burn them. Kai Wagner fired in a second ball from a corner kick and Carlos Coronel smashed a header away from Cory Burke. Carranza nodded the rebound home but he was offside when Burke delivered his header, which wiped the goal. Coronel also stopped a first-class Burke effort deep into injury time, one of three saves for the former Union goalie.

It makes the Union look back at how to change what has become an alarming trend.

“It’s a bad thing,” Gazdag said. “It’s not the first time it’s happened. … We definitely have to improve that.”

NOTES >> It’s the fourth time Carranza and Santos have started at the top this season, the last time on April 2 with Charlotte in town. Mikael Uhre missed the matchday squad for the third straight game with a quadriceps strain. Santos was the only substitution against the side who held a 2-2 draw in Los Angeles last Saturday after a string of substitutions in the fourth round of the US Open Cup following Tuesday’s fourth-round loss to Orlando City had. … Jose Martinez was shown a yellow card in the 65th. He is suspended against Inter Miami on Wednesday.

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