HARRISON, N.J. - Before last night's match against New York, Union manager John Hackworth was asked whether he believed Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry had anything left in the tank. The 36-year-old Henry answered that question himself in New York's 2-1 victory.
It was Henry who was waited in front of Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath in the 57th minute and notched his second goal of the season, assisted by Eric Alexander and Roy Miller. The Red Bulls added another goal in the 67th minute, earning their first win of the season, while handing the Union its second loss.
"How you let a player of his quality - and everybody knows it because we talked about it and go over it, and you deal with him really well for a large part of the game - but on a play like that where we literally got pulled apart . . . " Hackworth said. "He is one of the most dangerous guys in the league and he is wide open; it's a little crazy."
The Union (1-2-4) entered the match coming off three consecutive draws, its only win coming on March 15, over New England at PPL Park. Philadelphia was unable to turn its fortunes around, staying out of the win column for the fifth consecutive match.
The Red Bulls (1-2-4) returned home after a tough, 1-0 loss on the road against D.C. United.
Both teams had opportunities to score in the first half, but were unable to net multiple chances. New York recorded six shots on goal, while Philadelphia attempted five in the first half.
The second half was not as friendly for MacMath, who recorded three saves in the loss. After scoring the game-winning goal past MacMath in a 2-1 New York victory last March, Henry again showed the Union why he still is a threat. After Henry's goal, the Red Bulls scored again 10 minutes later, as midfielder Lloyd Sam netted his first goal of the season off Alexander's second assist of the evening.
"You can't leave a guy like Henry on the field," Hackworth said. "He's deadly and he has been his whole career, so that was tough. It's very frustrating to play as well as we did in some aspects of that game and then be down, 2-0."
"It is just missed assignments and lack of communication, not staying with runners; simple stuff that we have to clean up," defender Amobi Okugo said of the team's defensive struggles in the second half. "It's a three-game stretch and we have only gotten one point out of it, so we have a big game against Houston on Saturday."
The Union finally scored in the 80th minute as a New York handball in the penalty box gave forward Sebastien Le Toux an opportunity for a penalty kick. Although New York goalkeeper Luis Robles guessed correctly, Le Toux put it in the back of the net past his former teammate, pulling the Union within a goal.
"I knew Luis knew me very well because of the few months we spent together in New York, and we would practice the free kick every week together just for fun,'' Le Toux said. "I knew he knew my side, but I tried to see if he would stay steady and I was lucky that it went under his stomach. I will take the goal, but it doesn't really matter because we lost the game and it was all for nothing."
The Red Bulls' defense did not allow Philadelphia any other chances to tie the match in the final 10 minutes, leaving the Union without a point for the second time this season.
The Union hopes to get into the win column at home against Houston on Saturday, its third game in 8 days.
"There are no losses that ever feel good, especially against New York because it is a big rivalry," Le Toux said. "We wanted a better result and it is very frustrating, especially after we played a very good first half. But they came out stronger in the second half, scoring two goals. Right now, it's disappointing, but we have to get back on track, because we have another game on Saturday."