Ilsinho (25) dances with teammates after scoring his second goal. (Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)
CHESTER, Pa. — Enjoying a two-goal lead entering the last half hour of their match against the Philadelphia Union, the Red Bulls let the game and three points slip away via a crushing 3-2 defeat at Talen Energy Park Saturday night.
Second-half sub Ilsinho caused the most havoc, scoring two goals and assisting on another during a nightmare 12-minute span for the Red Bulls before a crowd of 18,767.
Needless to say, the Red Bulls (7-6-3, 24 points) walked out of the stadium stunned and in fifth place in the Eastern Conference while the furst-place Union (31 points) improved to 9-4-4.
“It hurts on the inside because we came here up for the challenge and belief that we could get three points tonight,” Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas said.
“We addressed our disappointment,” added team captain and goalkeeper Luis Robles, who saved a penalty kick. “There’s a saying we have internally that good teams are accountable to their leaders, but great teams are accountable to each other. There were a lot of hands up today because in little moments, they ended up punishing us. If we could’ve done a little better in those moments, then maybe it’s a different game.”
The visitors were hardly at full strength as they were missing three-quarters of their backline — center back Aaron Long and right back Michael Amir Murillo (international duty) and left back Kemar Lawrence (resting after a mid-week international) before the team lost center back Amro Tarek in the 48th minute to injury. Rookie Sean Nealis took over for Tarek.
The Red Bulls ruled the roost in the opening half.
In the 29th minute, midfielder Marc Rzatkowski sent a low-lining pass into the 18-yard box for defender Kyle Duncan. Duncan took one touch in and passed towards the top of the penalty area for Kaku, who one-timed a low shot past goalkeeper Andre Blake to the far post for the 1-0 lead.
As time was winding down in the half, midfielder Alex Muyl sent a high-arching pass from midfield to a sprinting Brian White. White sprinted pass two Union defenders and looped his shot over a charging Blake to double the lead in the 42nd minute. It was White’s team-leading fourth goal this season.
The complexion of the match started to change in the 53rd minute when Ilsinho replaced Brendan Aaronson.
Seven minutes later, the Union and Ilsinho were celebrating their first goal of the night after his assist to Jamiro Monteiro in the 60th minute.
Only a minute later, Ilsinho took matters into his own hands, so to speak, equalizing thanks to an Alejandro Bedoya feed before he struck for the eventual game-winner in the 72nd minute.
“He was able to come on and make a big difference,” Red Bulls midfielder Sean Davis said. “We tried to get numbers around him and he still found a way to get by. When it comes to our team, it’s never one guy, it’s never just on one guy or two guys, it’s a total team effort, so there’s a lot to learn from those goals, and you know like I mentioned earlier this is going to be a really important experience for us. It’s very disappointing, it sucks to lose, but again hopefully this is good for us in the long term.”