The Union climbed into second place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-0 win at the New York Red Bulls Sunday night in Harrison, N.J., just the team’s third ever win at Red Bull Arena in 15 trips there.
Brenden Aaronson, Kacper Przybylko and Matt Real scored the goals in what was the most lopsided win for the Union in the series since 2013.
The game wasn’t so good early. New York had 63% of the possession in the first 10 minutes, Przyblko fluffed a chance in the 25th minute, and Sergio Santos suffered a muscle injury setting him up on the play. He left the game and was replaced by Andrew Wooten.
“I hope it’s not too serious,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. “I don’t want to speculate too much until we get a picture of exactly what’s going on in there.”
Once Aaronson broke the deadlock in the 36th minute, though, the game was all in the Union’s favor. Alejandro Bedoya fed the Medford native with a pass on the ground from the right wing, then after one touch to settle the ball, Aaronson struck a thunderbolt from 20 yards out. It was arguably the best of his six as a pro so far.
Aaronson said it was a play that he and Bedoya have spent quite a bit of time working on in practice. More importantly, the 19-year-old said he approached the moment with a shoot-first mentality that he hasn’t always had.
”When I saw that [ball] getting squared across, there was only one thing in my head, and that was to shoot it,” he said. “That’s what I want to keep doing and I want to keep working on, because I think a great [No.] 10 has that goal-scoring capability.”
The European scouts watching the game would certainly agree with that.
New York raced out of the gates again to start the second half, and might have scored barely 90 seconds in if not for a diving tackle by Bedoya to halt a corner kick.
The Union’s second substitution was Ilsinho for Jamiro Monteiro in the 61st minute, and Monteiro went to the locker room instead of the bench. He had played every minute of the resumed season up to then, and more than earned some time to rest. Interim Red Bulls manager Bradley Carnell countered six minutes later that included sending in Mathias Jørgensen at striker for the ineffective Tom Barlow.
It seemed that the Union were content to prioritize keeping the lead over extending it, but when they got a chance to go forward in the 68th they did. Gaddis started the play, then Ilsinho and Aaronson brought it forward on the right flank. After a few seconds of possession, Aaronson fed Bedoya, who slipped a ball into the box for Andrew Wooten. Przybylko was in perfect position off the ball, and Wooten found him to finish a fine team goal.
Jim Curtin made his final substitutions in the 77th, sending in Anthony Fontana and Real for Aaronson and Olivier Mbaizo — who again started at left back with Kai Wagner still injured.
Real finished the game with his first play on the field, surging forward and shooting in off the far post after a nifty give-and-go with Ilsinho. It was the Drexel Hill native’s first goal in MLS. Fontana added a highlight moment in the 81st, hitting a first-time volley that Ryan Meara tipped out at full stretch.
“When you get in at halftime [leading] 1-0 on the road, the message is always whoever gets the next goal is going to win this game,” Curtin said. “You kind of can put a little bit of fear in your group when you say things like that, but I think our group recognizes the urgency and the importance of getting that second goal. It’s the best defense that there is.”