Tom Barlow celebrates his third goal of the season. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
HARRISON, N.J. — The Red Bulls, who clinched an MLS playoff berth after Saturday’s results, looked like a finely honed postseason team Sunday night in what has been an inconsistent season.
The hosts scored on either side of halftime as they held off the Philadelphia Union to register a 2-0 MLS victory at before 19,262 at Red Bull Arena Sunday night.
The win moved New York (14-13-5. 47 points) into fifth place in the Eastern Conference and within a point of D.C. United for fourth place and a home playoff game. Philly (52) dropped to 15-9-7.
Tom Barlow scored in the third minute and Daniel Royer tallied six minutes into second-half stoppage time for the Red Bulls, who recorded six out of a possible nine points in a seven-day stretch to earn their 10th consecutive trip to the playoffs. That is the second-longest active streak in the league.
With goalkeeper Luis Robles guarding the net, the Red Bulls registered consecutive league clean sheets for the first time since May 25-June 1 against FC Cincinnati, 1-0 and Real Salt Lake, 4-0. They recorded back-to-back league wins for the first time since May 25-June 1. Robles, who recorded his eighth shutout of the season and 71st of his career, moved into sole possession of fifth place in wins (144).
In the 32nd minute, Josh Sims sent a pass across the face of goal. Goalkeeper Andre Blake tried to break up the pass with a diving stop. Blake’s attempt failed as the ball was loose as Barlow came crashing in and finished to the near post.
With time winding down in stoppage time, Bradley Wright-Phillips found himself 1 v 1 with Blake and dished off to his left for Royer to add an insurance goal and his 11th this season.