By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer
Although the Union would’ve been looking for all three points against who are arguably their biggest rivals, a point against the New York Red Bulls will be somewhat welcome in the Union’s playoff race.
Sergio Santos showed that hadn’t lost any of his energy and determination from last week’s game against Atlanta United when faced with the Red Bulls’ defense. Santos was able to steal the ball away from opposing defender Dru Yearwood, find striking partner Kacper Przybyłko inside a jam-packed 18-yard box, and while no goal came from the efforts, the message was clear: Santos was going to be causing problems for New York’s back line.
Not to worry, however, as Santos got his moment of glory shortly thereafter. A corner kick found its way into the six-yard box, where Santos was waiting amongst a sea of bodies. He stuck out his knee, able to knock the ball past the goalkeeper to put the Union in the lead.
After some back-and-forth play, the Red Bulls were able to start finding gaps in the Union’s defense as well. Patryk Klimala stayed on his ball and nearly saw his feverish run turn into a goal, while Yearwood forced Andre Blake to make a save around the half-hour mark.
The home team weren’t looking particularly threatening, but a long-range cross from Carlos Coronel found Omar Fernandez to put the Red Bulls on the board first.
The Union were dealt another blow when Jose Martinez was shown a yellow card following a tackle in the attacking third, meaning that he will not be available for selection against Columbus Crew on Sunday, Oct. 2.
The second half saw Daniel Gazdag and Paxten Aaronson enter the fray in a bid to generate more offense for the visitors. Aaronson nearly found another goal off a corner kick, after he managed to find his way near the back post, but was unable to convert.
In the 85th minute, the Union saw two more yellow cards—one for Kai Wagner for a questionably-angled tackle on Daniel Royer, and one for Blake after expressing some major frustration following a corner kick.
Aaronson once again found himself involved in a scoring opportunity, threading a ball through to Przybylko, but the Polish striker was unable to capitalize.
Man of the Match: Santos can receive the honor because he salvaged the only goal, and therefore a point, for the Union, but some serious recognition needs to be given to Aaronson for his immediate impact on the game when he entered. A plethora of chances were created because of his creativity and spatial awareness, and although a goal didn’t come to fruition, the offensive intensity didn’t waver thanks to Aaronson’s influence.
The Main Takeaway: It’s not the ideal result, but it’s one of those games where the result doesn’t necessarily reflect the performance. The offensive pressure was just what was needed to wear down the Red Bulls’ defense, and it’s exactly what’s needed in the last stretch of games in the regular season. It’s also nothing but positive to see the young players logging more minutes and being allowed to create more opportunities and control the game to a certain extent.