By Annie Ross
If you want to know what the difference is between this year’s Philly Union and last season’s team, you should have been among the 18,500 who watched the Union earn a well-deserved point against New York Red Bulls last night in Chester.
Last season’s Union would have given up after falling behind 2-0.
Philly trailed 2-0 through the first 45 minutes. The No.6 overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft Fabian Herbers entered in the 64th minute and immediately made a mark. Herbers created pressure on Red Bulls and his form left an impact on head coach Jim Curtin.
“I thought that Fabian came into the game and made an impact,” Curtin said. “I was happy with all of the guys.”
The Union were able to get on the board thanks to a great sequence that started from MLS rookie All-Star Keegan Rosenberry. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 draft, sent a ball into the box intended for Chris Pontius, but Pontius was dragged down from behind by Red Bulls’ Sal Zizzo.
Thanks to the hard play of Pontius, the Union were awarded a penalty kick. C.J. Sapong stepped up to the penalty spot and delivered home his first career penalty kick to bring the Union within a goal. Just 78 seconds later, the match was tied.
Again, it was Rosenberry who started the goal-scoring play. Rosenberry sent a pass along the near sideline that found Herbers who went racing towards the box. Herbers then sent in a pass that streaked across the box and found the foot of Pontius who delivered his team-leading seventh goal of the season.
“Chris is a great player. I mean he is a guy who has been the through the battles in MLS, he’s an excellent winger,” Curtin said. “I think he is one of the top in the league. He has got a knack around the goal right, so he has a way of moving in the box. You can’t teach it.”
Philly showed constant pressure throughout the ending of the match. Their ability to send multiple men towards the net took a hit after Ilsinho was sent off after receiving his second yellow of the match in the 72nd minute.
Despite being down to 10 men the Union provided excellent pressure on New York. The club had their best opportunity to take the lead when Sebastien Le Toux send a pass to a streaking Sapong but was unable to get the shot past Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles.
The Union’s draw with New York means they’re still undefeated against Eastern Conference clubs at Talen Energy Stadium this season.
Next up is a quarterfinals matchup with New England Revolution in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. After their midweek contest the club returns to MLS action when they travel north to take on Montreal Impact.