NYCFC beats the Philadelphia Union on a gloomy and raccoon-filled evening

  • NYCFC and the Philadelphia Union battled it out on a gloomy Wednesday evening
  • The Pigeons found a way to earn all three points in the 2-1 win
NYCFC / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, New York City FC traveled to Chester to take on the Philadelphia Union.  After the win against Toronto FC over the weekend, the Pigeons wanted to use that match to inspire them to play for a second road win of the year.

Of course, the road is not a friendly place for the Bronx side, and they often find themselves departing with no points.  With the Union struggling as they entered the match, NYCFC knew this would be their best chance to not only win in Pennsylvania but break the losing streak against the home team.

Meanwhile, Nick Cushing also had the Hudson River Derby on his mind.  He opted not to have James Sands with the squad, for one more yellow card would mean he would miss the next game.  In addition, Mounsef Bakrar was back, but on the bench.  Ideally, he can use substitute performances to build his confidence back up.  Instead, Alonso Martínez received the start at front and center.

In the end, NYCFC managed to win their second road game of the season.  They beat the Union 2-1 in a gritty fixture that involved some solid defense and some luck.  It was also their first win against them since the 2021 MLS Cup playoffs.

NYCFC beats Philadelphia for the first time since 2021

It was Martínez who put NYCFC ahead early in the second minute.  The Pigeons received the ball that led to a great run by Santiago Rodríguez.  The star player ran into the box, where he picked out the Costa Rican forward.  With a curling ground pass, the ball accurately made the way to Martínez, who easily kicked the ball inside the top of the goal.

That goal was impressive, but the goal toward the end of the first half was the best.  Hannes Wolf took a free kick in stoppage time, where he was about a few feet to the left and in front of the right corner flag.  The versatile player sent the ball into the box, likely trying to meet the head of a teammate.  Instead, the ball curled ever so slightly, hitting the ball inside the top-left corner of the post to fall into the goal.  This is one of those goals that has to be seen.

The Union also had an incredible goal early in the second half to cut the score in half.  Julián Carranza took a free kick that was perfectly placed.  Matt Freese could not do anything, nor could his defenders.  This put the pressure on NYCFC for the rest of the match.

Nevertheless, the goals were nice but this was a close game that could have gone the other way.  Philadelphia had too many shooting chances due to the space NYCFC allowed in the defensive third.  They were lucky the home side struggled to capitalize except for the Carranza goal.  There was also the moment when the Union thought they scored the tying goal at the end, but the offside call was the hero.

Sometimes, the performance might not be there.  The fact that NYCFC stepped up to get their second road win in a row and of the year shows character.  They dug deep down to hinder some of Philadelphia’s chances while also utilizing a little luck.

The result was wonderful, but the best part of the game was the raccoon.  The match was delayed during the middle of the first half due to a raccoon running on the pitch.  It ran all over and got pretty close to the players and fans.  It took a few people and garbage cans to finally trap the crazy animal.  Hopefully, it is okay, and the Union ensured the proper experts could bring it elsewhere.

Perhaps the raccoon was what the Pigeons needed.  They saw how hard it worked to avoid capture, and diligently worked to grab the win.

The big test will be the Hudson River Derby on Saturday.  This will show what NYCFC is made of and whether they have truly turned things around.  The New York Red Bulls are on fire and will be coming off a 4-1 win against D.C. United.  This will be a derby to watch.