An early goal from Cory Burke and a long night of hard defensive work led by Jack Elliott carried the Union to a 1-0 win over the rival New York Red Bulls Saturday night at Subaru Park. It was the Union’s first home win of the regular season.
Here are some observations on the game.
Union manager Jim Curtin promised some starting lineup rotation coming into this game, and one piece of it was Anthony Fontana starting instead of Jack McGlynn. Fontana was quite lively early on. If that’s because he took Jim Curtin’s criticism after Wednesday’s game to heart, that would be as good an explanation as any.
Fontana recorded 28 touches, one shot, five duels won, four recoveries, one interception, one tackle, and 15-of-17 passing before being withdrawn for Kacper Przybylko in the 58th minute.
Przybylko came off the bench for just the second time this year, and it might not have been just to give him some rest. He suffered a sprained ankle during Wednesday’s game against New England. Curtin said Friday that it wasn’t a big deal, and Przybylko looked fine when he played.
Sergio Santos and Burke started together up top, and Burke scored in the ninth minute. Jamiro Monteiro sprung Burke down the left side of the 18-yard box, and he shot low past Red Bulls goalkeeper Carlos Coronel, who spent the first half of 2019 as a Union teammate.
When Przybylko entered, some people might have been surprised that he replaced Fontana instead of another striker. But Curtin hinted after the Chicago game last weekend that he wanted to try Przybylko as a withdrawn forward behind Santos and Burke.
The experiment lasted 20 minutes. Matt Real came in for Santos in the 78th as a defensive reinforcement.
Jack Elliott was man of the match
Just under three minutes into the game, Elliott and Andre Blake had a nasty looking collision that also sent New York’s Cristian Cásseres Jr. to the turf. The two Union players stayed down for a long time, and Elliott underwent a concussion check on the sideline.
But they all ended up fine, and Elliott ended up playing very well. He recorded 42 touches; six recoveries; five duels won; three clearances and two tackles; completed 20 of 30 passes; and added in two shots for good measure.
New York got just four shots in the first half, and none of them were on target. Red Bulls manager Gerhard Struber tried to spark the attack at halftime by subbing in new Designated Player striker Patryk Klimala, whose $2.2 million transfer fee from Scotland’s Celtic was the second-largest in New York history.
Klimala showed over the course of his time on the field why the Red Bulls stumped up to buy him. But the Union (2-2-2, 8 points) were able to hold Frankie Amaya and Caden Clark to a total of zero shots and zero chances created. Amaya played 54 minutes and Clark played 76 before they were subbed off.
New York (2-3-0, 6 points) didn’t really trouble Blake at all until the 57th minute, when Klimala took advantage of a mixup between Blake and Olivier Mbaizo near the end line and slid a shot past Blake toward the far post. But the ball spun away from the goalmouth, and the Union got it out of danger.
Blake’s best save came in the 88th, a low diving stop Klimala after he beat Jakob Glesnes off the dribble.