By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer
The Union finally get a break after playing nine games in 22 days, securing their first home win of the season against the New York Red Bulls. The 1-0 scoreline wasn’t all that exciting, but the heated rivalry between the Union and the Red Bulls always guarantees an entertaining game. Let’s recap.
The Union opened up the scoring early on, with Cory Burke scoring quite the bottom-corner goal in the ninth minute of play. A result of some beautiful linkup play in the midfield between Leon Flach and Jamiro Monteiro, Burke was able to score from a difficult angle to put the Union ahead 1-0.
Despite being able to notch an early lead, cracks in the offense definitely started to show. The Boys In Blue had no problem getting the ball forward, but mistimed runs, too many extra touches in the box, misplaced passes, and an overall inability to finish in the final third cost them any hope of getting an insurance goal.
That being said, it needs to be highlighted that the Union’s defense is immensely underrated. Andre Blake was excellent, as always, and the back four had a significant part in keeping the narrow lead. Olivier Mbaizo controlled the entire right side, while Kai Wagner quite literally put his body on the line to protect the Union’s lead and clean sheet. It was a hard-fought clean sheet, but one that was definitely deserved.
Now, because it’s a game between the Union and the Red Bulls, the night wasn’t without chippiness. Plenty of players on both sides went down, and while there wasn’t a flurry of cards from referee Allan Chapman, the Red Bulls’ Dru Yearwood was issued a red card (second yellow) in stoppage time during a shoving match that involved several players from both teams.
Man of the Match: This game had multiple players that deserve this title, but Burke will take it. His goal was superb, the passion and loyalty towards the badge displayed in his goal celebration was admirable, and he never stopped searching for another goal the entire game.
The Main Takeaway: The Union offense have all of the right pieces, and they do find cohesiveness enough to secure a fair share of wins/draws, but they’re still not consistent enough to be considered a true threat in MLS. Huge credit to Burke for his goal, but the defense won this game for the Union.
A More Secondary Takeaway: It was great to see Jim Curtin substitute homegrowns Matthew Real and Quinn Sullivan onto the field, but he’s making these substitutions way too late in the game. The young guys need minutes, and if they’re not going to be featured as starters, they at least deserve a chance to have more of an impact on the game when they’re subbed on—which means putting them on with more than 5-10 minutes left in the game.