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Union denied by Red Bulls

HARRISON, N.J. - The games between the Union and New York Red Bulls are always intense, but the matchup Saturday night had a postseason feel to it.

HARRISON, N.J. - The games between the Union and New York Red Bulls are always intense, but the matchup Saturday night had a postseason feel to it.

The one difference is that the Red Bulls entered the game having already secured a Major League Soccer playoff berth while the Union still have work to do with two games remaining.

An unmarked Dax McCarty headed in a long free kick from Sacha Kljestan in the 66th minute to break a 2-2 tie and lead the Red Bulls to a 3-2 win over the Union at Red Bull Arena.

"That was playoff atmosphere right there and about the pace of what a playoff game is going to look like," said Union midfielder Chris Pontius, who tied a career high with his 12th goal and set a career high with his sixth assist.

Throughout the match, New York (14-9-9) had the much better chances, but keeper Andre Blake kept the Union in the game with several spectacular saves, including one in the 26th minute when he stoned Mike Grella on a volley from close range.

The Union are 11-12-9, stuck on 42 points. If the season ended today, they would be among the six Eastern Conference playoff teams. But now they must earn points in their remaining two games, at home against Orlando City and the Red Bulls.

The Union lost center back Josh Yaro, who was taken off the field on a stretcher in the 29th minute after being caught in the middle of a collision between Blake and Aurelien Collin. Yaro had just returned from a concussion.

"He was standing upright and walking now [after the game], but he was out of it for sure," Union coach Jim Curtin said.

Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya left in the 52nd minute for what he believes is a rib injury.

"It is something I have been struggling with all week," Bedoya said. "... I stretched for the ball and the movement aggravated it and I couldn't move well."

In the 15th minute, the Union took a 1-0 lead when defender Fabinho, who has been dangerous attacking on the left side, found Pontius, who delivered a pass to Fabian Herbers. The rookie from Creighton sent a shot from the top of the box that barely beat keeper Luis Robles.

The Red Bulls mounted tremendous pressure and it paid off. Kljestan converted a one-timer from 13 yards out in the 44th minute.

New York took a 2-1 lead when Bradley Wright-Phillips one-timed a long ball from McCarty for his 21st goal in the 47th minute.

The Union tied the score on Pontius' leaping header off a long Fabinho cross in the 56th minute before McCarty provided the game-winner.

The Union almost tied the score when Pontius' bicycle kick from inside the box was denied on a spectacular save by Robles in the 83rd minute.

"It felt good," Pontius said about the shot, certainly not about the result.