NEW YORK — The Union were once again eliminated from the playoffs at the first hurdle, surrendering two early goals on Wednesday night and never looking close to a comeback in a 3-1 loss to New York City FC at Yankee Stadium.
"In the big game, against a team that is of the quality of NYCFC, we were a little naïve and young, maybe, in our transition defense, and their quality of players punished us," Union manager Jim Curtin said.
After a similarly one-sided loss in the Bronx on Sunday, Curtin followed through on his hints of deploying a more-defensive lineup. He benched C.J. Sapong, put captain Alejandro Bedoya in a wide role on the right side, and started veteran midfield stopper Warren Creavalle in Bedoya's usual deep central role.
The changes didn't help much. In the 10th minute, Maxi Moralez seized on a poor giveaway by Mark McKenzie, then pinged the ball through the Union's defense to David Villa, who flicked it for Ismael Tajouri-Shradi to smash past Andre Blake.
The Union failed to stop City from scoring second for the second straight game, and McKenzie was in the middle of things again. In the 26th minute, Ronald Matarrita sprung Moralez, and McKenzie joined Auston Trusty in chasing Moralez on the left wing. Moralez split both defenders with a pass into the open space, Villa ran to meet it, and the ensuing finish was easy.
Curtin sent Ilsinho on at halftime for Creavalle, with the Union in need of goals. But the Union registered just four shots in the second half, and two came after New York's third goal. Moralez put the nail in the Union's coffin in the 78th minute with a brilliant chip over an onrushing Blake from 15 yards.
Burke scored a consolation goal in the 83rd, set up by the kind of slashing run from Ilsinho that had been awaited all night.
As Bedoya put it with his typical bluntness: "You just can't expect to play from behind like this. … The game plan goes to hell when you let a goal in [during] the first 10 minutes."