On a lovely Saturday afternoon with less heat and less humidity the Red Bulls were about to finish up a three game home stand within seven days as they hosted the Philadelphia Union. Even thought this matchup has been around for nearly three full seasons, the Red Bulls have been dominating at home against this Eastern Pennsylvania team.
Kenny Cooper, who has been on a goal-less drought for two months, finally broke the jinx by putting in two goals against the Union and he did so with his head. The first one came in the 43rd minute after a solid defensive performance. Joel Lindpere then brought the ball forward. He found Connor Lade on the side who crosses a fantastic ball right to the head of Kenny Cooper, and he buried it inside the near post past Zac MacMath for the one goal lead. It was Cooper’s first goal in league play since May 23rd against Chivas-USA, though he did score on May 29th at the Charleston Battery in the third round of the US Open Cup.
The second goal came after a little controversy when Jack McInerney got his shirt pulled from behind by Jonathan Borrajo and referee Hilario Grajeda didn’t blow his whistle. But there was a turnover that gave Cooper his second of the match. In the 58th minute, a strong cross from Henry found Cooper, and he again headed the ball home – this time inside the far post – and MacMath and company were frustrated once again. For Cooper it was his 13th of the season and 14th in all competitions. That gave New York the two goals to nil victory.
“One week, three games, fatigued players. Good to see the attitude, the sport just to do the job over 90 minutes.” Said Hans Backe, “(We) really, really worked hard. Of course there are some ups and downs in our possession game, our passing game, but I can live with that when you go into the third game in seven days with almost the same team.”
But from the Philadelphia side it was another painful match where they had chances and couldn’t get anything their way. “(They) had a good game and got two goals on us, congratulations to them,” said John Hackworth. He continued, “I thought we did an okay job trying to control tempo and rhythm. We were not so good in the final third, which was our downfall.”
Sadly for Brandon Barklage he picked up a right hamstring strain in the 14th minute, and that allowed Jonathan Borrajo to get his first game in MLS and did a good job filling in all game long. But the real beast on the field was Connor Lade. He tracked back, set up chances, and always looked dangerous while annoying the opposition on the field. He is showing very well and looks like he could be on this team for a long time, but we shall wait and see how he finishes his rookie year.
It’s a full week of rest before the side travels to Quebec and faces the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo. But for the time being the Red Bulls are in first place in the East. We shall see how the weekend finishes at the end.