HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls are kings of the Eastern Conference thanks to a complete romp of the Philadelphia Union.
Mike Grella set the tone, scoring his first of two goals in an MLS record seven seconds, as the Red Bulls took Grella’s brace, a Kemar Lawrence goal and a Bradley Wright-Phillips strike to beat Philadelphia 4-1 at Red Bull Arena.
The victory earns New York the Eastern Conference title (17-10-6, 57 pts.) and puts them ahead of FC Dallas (17-10-6, 57 pts.) in the Supporters’ Shield race by tiebreaker (goal differential). The result also earns the Red Bulls a place in the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League.
An errant back pass from the center circle gave New York all the opportunity needed to open the score. Grella latched on to the free ball, running past two defenders before knuckling a shot past his marker and to the short-sdie of Andre Blake for the opening score.
His seven second goal breaks the 2013 record of former Red Bull Tim Cahill who scored a then-record eight second goal against Houston.
New York were not done there. A Sacha Kljestan corner found the head of Damien Perrinelle in the box. The French defender deflected the pass onto the path of Bradley Wright-Phillips for the finish in the fourth minute.
Thirteen minutes later, Grella struck again. Taking a pass in the box from Dax McCarty, Grella cutback on his defender, found space and once again victimized Blake to the short side to put New York up 3-0.
Philadelphia fell into a malaise for the rest of the half, allowing New York one more opportunity to find net. Kemar Lawrence nailed the fourth Red Bull goal of the night, taking advantage of a great interplay between McCarty and Lloyd Sam in the box, sinking his chance past Wenger on the Englishman’s service for the commanding 4-0 lead.
Philadelphia answered back in the 55th minute thanks to a goal from former Red Bull Sebastian Le Toux. Ayuk nearly made it two in extra time, but Robles got a fingertip save on the goal-bound shot.
New York now face the final match of their season against the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. If they win, they will clinch the Supporters’ Shield for the second time in three years.