Kljestan’s brace no match for 10-man Union in 2-2 draw

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

Two first half goals from recently named MLS All Star Sacha Kljestan seemed to put RBNY in the driver’s seat, but a familiar foe in Chris Pontius sank New York’s chance of taking their second road win of the season.

The Red Bulls took a 2-0 lead into the second half, but a late Philadelphia surge tied the encounter. Despite a red card on Ilsinho, New York were unable to find a way past the Union, settling on two lost points and a 2-2 draw.

The first half was dominated by New York, despite a slow start. Ex-DC United and New York villain Chris Pontius provided a bit of trouble early on but couldn’t help Philadelphia take the lead. Instead, the Red Bull high press drove the game’s first goal when Bradley Wright-Phillips stripped his marker in the Union’s third, finding Kljestan on the break. The 2016 MLS All Star buried the ball for the first goal of the game. Kljestan doubled the lead in the 44th minute when a freekick opportunity deflected past goalkeeper Andre Blake.

The game shifted dramatically in the second half as New York took a far more defensive approach, opening the door for the Union’s dramatic comeback. It began in the 66th minute when Sal Zizzo took down Chris Pontius in the box, awarding Philadelphia a penalty kick. C.J. Sapong stepped up to the spot and blasted a shot past Luis Robles to cut the lead in half.

Less than a minute later, Red Bull was stunned when danger-man Chris Pontius equalized, finishing a fantastic Fabian Herbers’ pass in the box.

The remainder of the second half was a chaotic mess with Ilsinho being sent off with a second yellow and New York falling into a defensive shell, handing the Union several opportunities despite the man advantage. Both teams scrambled late, including a huge save by Robles off of Pontius to keep the game level.

New York grabs a point on the road but the dropped points will be sorely missed. This season, the team’s road record still only shows one win. Next week, New York comes home to host first place rivals NYCFC in a game that could end up deciding more than bragging rights.

STARTING XI:

New York Red Bull II: Robles; Lade, Collin, Perrinelle, Zizzo (’67 Duvall); McCarty, Felipe; Grella, Muyl (’80 Veron), Kljestan; Wright-Phillips (’83 Zubar)

Philadelphia Union: Blake; Rosenberry, Tribbett, Richie Marquez, Fabinho; Barnetta (’90 Creavalle), Carroll; Pontius (’82 Le Toux), Ilsinho, Alberg (’63 Herbers); Sapong

GOALS:

’27 (RBNY) Sacha Kljestan (3) assisted by Bradley Wright-Phillips (4)
’44 (RBNY) Sacha Kljestan (4)
’66 (Philadelphia Union) C.J. Sapong (6) Penalty Kick
68′ (Philadelphia Union) Chris Pontius (7) assisted by Fabian Herbers (3)

DISCIPLINE:

’36 YELLOW CARD (Philadelphia Union) Brian Carroll
’43 YELLOW CARD (Philadelphia Union) Ilsinho
’66 YELLOW CARD (RBNY) Sal Zizzo
’72 RED CARD (Philadelphia Union) Ilsinho
’73 YELLOW CARD (RBNY) Connor Lade