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Drilling down on: at New York 2, Philadelphia 0

Philadelphia Union v New York Red Bulls

HARRISON, NJ - JULY 21: Kenny Cooper #33 of the New York Red Bulls reacts after scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Union at Red Bull Arena on July 21, 2012 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

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Man of the Match: Breaking free from a long and frustrating goal-scoring slump? May as well get two then. Kenny Cooper’s goal just before intermission off Connor Lade’s quality cross was the big striker’s first since May 23, eight games back in league play. His second successful header, this one off Thierry Henry’s cross, was just as sharp, also placed with precision just inside the near post. With a bit less than half a season remaining, Cooper is just five off his best season, 18 goals in 2008.

Packaged for take-away:

  • Connor Lade had another sensational match. While his team labored a bit – understandably, playing its third game in seven days – Lade’s supply of energy along New York’s left side was undented. Technically and tactically, he has a lot to learn, especially when arriving into shooting positions. But the New Jersey native’s sheer ability to buzz around, doing all the defensive chores but always inserting himself into good offensive positions, is having a huge impact on the success around Red Bull Arena right now.
  • Hans Backe’s team is unbeaten in its last 13 matches in Harrison.
  • Sebastien Le Toux’s stationing on the field so far for New York has been equal parts forward and right midfield. He’s never been comfortable in midfield, always preferring a role closer to goal. Backe would prefer to see him there, too. With Cooper and Henry, that would provide quite a rotation.
  • With New York playing its third match in seven days, and with Philly playing slightly more defensively on the road, first-half chances were precious.
  • The best chance before Cooper’s goal just before the break: Michael Farfan’s pinpoint pass set Josué Martinez free. New York ‘keeper Bill Gaudette turned up with an important save there.
  • Next discussion about which MLS players just aren’t being talked about enough this year, mention Michael Farfan. You’ll look smart for doing so.
  • Thierry Henry seemed to be feeling the heat and the recent mileage; his usual sharpness was missing, as the occasional bad touch undercut New York possession or the occasional pass was left off target.
  • Brandon Barklage, who has played so well as a replacement for injured right back Jan Gunnar Solli, had to be withdrawn early due to a hamstring injury. Young defender Jonathan Borrajo, the Red Bulls’ third choice right back, entered in the 16th minute.
  • With Borrajo a little shy about straying out of the back, and with Le Toux’s natural inclination to lean inside, the right side was rarely seen in New York’s attack.
  • The left side, on the other hand, was alive thanks to Lade. In addition to providing the cross on Cooper’s goal just before halftime, Lade was also involved in New York’s second goal.
  • Speaking of New York’s wide-awake left side, Roy Miller has played well for the Red Bulls since Heath Pearce came over in a trade from Chivas USA. Miller clearly won’t let go of his spot easily.
  • No Freddy Adu in Philadelphia’s lineup. Or on the bench. Hmmm. Stay tuned on this one.
  • Jack McInerney was caught offside three times in the first 10 minutes. After that, we didn’t hear much about the young Union striker. Then again, Lionard Pajoy didn’t do a darn thing, either. (A guy on the books for almost $200,000 this year really should be ahead of 5 goals and 2 assists in 17 matches, which are Pajoy’s numbers.)
  • Wilman Conde as Markus Holgersson’s central partner along New York’s back line. Solid. No issues at all as the Red Bulls posted their second consecutive shutout.