2021 MLS Cup Playoffs

Chester, PA – A crisp 35-degree afternoon at Subaru Park for the first match kicking off the 2021 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs between the Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls. Any time it’s Philly taking on New York you know there’s going to be some bad blood. Only an hour car ride separates the two cities and there were definitely a whole lot of Red Bulls supporters in attendance.

Entering this matchup, the Red Bulls hadn’t defeated the Union since the 2018 season. The two clubs faced each other three times this season. The results were one Union victory and two draws between the clubs.

Let’s take a look at how these clubs faired during the 2021 season before entering the playoffs.

Philadelphia Union

The Sons of Ben, under coach Jim Curtin, who has been in charge since 2014, has found recent success. The Union won the 2020 supporters shield as well as a semi-final appearance in the MLS is Back tournament. This year, the Union also took part in the CONCACAF Champions League. Curtin, who won coach of the year last season, led his team to 14 wins, 12 draws, and eight losses. The Union earned 54 points, securing the second seed in the east.

New York Red Bulls

The second season under Gerhard Struber resulted in 13 wins, 9 draws, and 12 losses, ending with 48 points, giving them the seventh and final seed in the east. The team really picked it up in the second half of the season winning six out of their last 10 with three draws.

The 2021 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs Kickoff!

This was an all-defensive matchup as both clubs really made a name for themselves in that category throughout the season. The Union only conceded 35 goals compared to New York’s 33, which are the two least in Major League Soccer. Of course, the commander of the defense for Philadelphia has been goalkeeper Andre Blake who is a finalist for goalkeeper of the year. Both Blake and Red Bulls goalkeeper, Carlos Coronel came up with some tremendous plays as well as saves that would keep this match scoreless.

This match was highly physical with 30 fouls committed and five yellow cards being distributed. 90 minutes wasn’t enough with 24 shots put on goal combined from both clubs. It wasn’t until the 123rd minute, just seconds away from penalty kicks, that the Norwegian international defender, Jakob Glesnes volleyed one from outside the eighteen finding its way past Coronel. The goal quite frankly should be up there for goal of the season. It sent Subaru Park into a frenzy. The Union took the 1-0 victory to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

What’s Next

For the New York Red Bulls, their season comes to an end in a heartbreaking fashion, being eliminated in the first round. The Philadelphia Union awaits the winners of Orlando City SC and Nashville SC, in which the Union will have home-field advantage regardless.

 

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Daniel Torres
Christopher Columbus High School Alumni Founder of PlugTalkSports Lemon City Live contributor Play-by-play commentator CCNN Live mentor

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