In front of a sellout crowd at PPL Park New York City FC and the Philadelphia Union may have just sparked one of the most intense rivalries in the MLS. A homegrown success story vs a Spanish gladiator. The “Manchester City” of the MLS taking on the Underdogs. 90 minutes and three goals later saw the Philadelphia Union take their first victory of the season in emphatic fashion. Vincent Nogueira scored a winner in stoppage time to give the Union a 2-1 win over New York City FC in the first-ever meeting between the two new Eastern Conference rivals.
When we spoke to Zach Pfeffer last week, he seemed extremely confident in his ability and that this year was going to belong to him and the Union. He may be a fortune teller as he scored for the Union on his return from suspension. The team snapped a three-game losing streak taking their first win of the season whilst David Villa, the man we said had to be on lock down scored the only goal for New York City FC who are without a win now in their last three.
New York entered half time one goal behind. They scored a quickfire goal ten minutes into the second half but then came the Union. The team tightened up and for the first time this season, put up a real fight. It was a war in the trenches in midfield as they battled to keep the NYCFC cavalry at bay. Despite losing out to the possession stat, it’s obvious to see why. Instead of attacking the blues, the Union decided to hit them on the counter with the pace of Le Toux and Wenger..and it worked perfectly.
Determined to not let another solid performance slide into a column without a W on the top. With the game heading towards a close at 1-1, elusive winger Andrew Wenger played a gorgeous cross that drew out goalie Josh Saunders to bat the ball away at the near post. In the process of the desperate clearance, the ball fell to a wide open Nogueira who as predicted slotted it home for the win. If the Union had done that last week, we would be celebrating win number two!
The main talking point of the afternoon was homegrown rookie John McCarthy who made his MLS debut in place of the benched Mbohli. He made three saves including a David Villa free kick in the 89th minute to secure a point…not a bad accolade to have on your resume! You could see what it meant to him after the game as well as he celebrated as if it were a cup final. It’s that kind of mentality that’s going to lift the Union up the conference. The passion was showcased beautifully and McCarthy definitely made an impact today.
However, the battle may be over…but the war might have only just begun. The two teams meet again this Thursday at the Yankee Stadium. Can the Union make it two in a row and make a statement against their newest rival?