By Samindra Kunti – “Are you kidding me?” shouted Red Bulls coach Mike Petke on the touchline after a harsh foul on Peguy Luyindula went unpunished in the early minutes of the New York vs. Philadelphia game.
Petke was agitated and that would not change during the first half. His team dominated much of it, but lacked confidence in the final third. An industrious Dax McCarthy demonstrated a lot of forward intent, but his incisive play was not matched by his teammates.
The Red Bulls threatened on the right wing at times. Kimura tried to overlap. Bradley Wright-Philipps got a sight of goal twice, but proved to be clumsy. For much though, the Red Bulls played rather uninspiringly. They struggled with the pace of Christian Maidana.
Petke was not happy with his troops at the interval. He told them their performance was simply not good enough. They needed to step it up.
New York poured on the pressure in the second half and that culminated in a goal in the 57th minute: Roy Miller combined with Eric Alexander on the left flank, and the left-back picked out Thierry Henry wide open inside the box. The French captain didn’t hesitate and comfortably beat Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
The hosts doubled their lead ten minutes later when Alexander proved to be provider again. Lloyd Sam powered his cross past a helpless Zac MacMatch.
But the visitors were given a lifeline when Ibrahim Sekagya got sent off for intentionally handling the ball inside the penalty area. Sebastian LeToux converted from the spot.
The Red Bulls, however, held on to secure their first victory of the season. "We just got to believe in ourselves," said midfielder Tim Cahill, who entered in the second half for his first appearance in three matches since injuring his hamstring in the first half against Chivas USA on March 30. "We found our feet today. We found three points. This is the beginning of our season."