On Decision Day, the Philadelphia Union were defeated by the New York City Football Club, 3-1, conceding three first half goals including an own-goal and failing to convert a penalty kick.
Philadelphia Union were rightfully up for Sunday’s game against the New York City Football Club, the final game of the 2018 Major League Soccer regular season.
A win on Decision Day would have secured a third place finish in the Eastern Conference as well as a home playoff game, something the Union have been in search of since crashing out against the Houston Dynamo in 2011.
But the visitors went down early, failing to recover from their first half blunders.
Philadelphia’s mistakes included an Auston Trusty own-goal and consecutive missed clearances from Union defenders that eventually led to a David Villa dagger in the 34th minute. Villa’s goal widened his team’s lead to three goals to one, while Sean Johnson’s saved penalty in the second half kept the home side two goals to the good.
New York (16W, 10L, 8D) ended its regular season campaign with a win, defeating Philadelphia (15W, 14L, 5D), 3-1. Despite their recent struggles, NYCFC locked down third in the East as well as hosting rights against the Union for the Knockout Round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
NYCFC drew first blood, scoring in the 8th minute. New York’s goal came courtesy of cumbersome French defender Maxime Chanot.
Chanot separated himself from his marker, C.J. Sapong, before rising to meet the in-swinger from teammate Maxi Moralez. Chanot headed past Andre Blake to notch the first goal of the contest, the Frenchman’s first goal of the season.
New York would double their advantage just minutes later, with help from an Auston Trusty mishap.
Philly’s young defender attempted a stab at the ball, which took an unfortunate deflection into the Union’s side netting. It is the second own-goal for the Homegrown, with his last coming in the U.S. Open Cup Final against Houston.
Philadelphia received a spark a few minutes later, however, with Cory Burke pulling a goal back for the visitors in the 13th minute.
Following an appealing piece of interplay with Fafa Picault, league assist-leader Borek Dockal split the seams, threading a well-timed pass into the path of Burke. Philadelphia’s joint top-scorer bagged his 10th goal of the campaign.
Following a brief lull in the action, City’s captain, David Villa, complicated matters for the Union. Villa followed up a diving save by Blake with a slotted shot past the rooted Jamaican.
Villa was mostly held in check by the Union’s young center-halves throughout the half and ultimately the game, too. But a lapse in the reactions by the Union backline provided the Spaniard with more than enough time to pounce on the loose ball and widen City’s lead to two.
On a yellow card and risking a ban for the playoffs, Cory Burke was subbed off at the start of the second half, making way for Ilsinho. Television cameras picked up on an exchange of words between Burke and head coach Jim Curtin, with the Jamaican looking teary-eyed.
Philadelphia was unable to generate many chances in the second half. Undoubtedly the Union’s best opportunity to pull within a goal of City came in the 59th minute. Philadelphia was awarded a penalty kick after Johnson was deemed to have brought down a Union player.
Picault elected to take the spot kick, and his ensuing shot was parried out by Johnson to keep the score 3-1.
Johnson’s save was one of the few he was forced to make on the day. Philly registered five total shots on New York’s No. 1, but the visitors sorely needed three of them to eek past Johnson for a guaranteed game at Talen Energy Stadium.
Starting XI —
New York City Football Club (4-2-3-1):
Sean Johnson; Ben Sweat, Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot (Ebenezer Ofori, 87′), Anton Tinnerholm; Yangel Herrera, Alexander Ring; Jesús Medina (Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, 85′), Maxi Moralez (Eloi Amagat, 69′), Ronald Matarrita; David Villa
Philadelphia Union (4-2-3-1):
Andre Blake; Ray Gaddis, Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie, Keegan Rosenberry (Fabinho, 69′); Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya; Fabrice-Jean Picault, Borek Dockal, C.J. Sapong (Jay Simpson, 76′); Cory Burke (Ilsinho, 45′)
New York City Football Club:
Maxime Chanot (8′), David Villa (34′)
Auston Trusty (OG, 10′), Cory Burke (13′)
Auston Trusty (Caution: Unsporting Behavior, 15′), Cory Burke (Caution: Unsporting Behavior, 40′), Haris Medunjanin (Dissent, 70′)
Next Match —
Following the defeat to New York along with the result in Columbus, Philadelphia will return to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday to play in a knockout game. Kick off is still to be determined.