Union closes home season with win over Red Bull New York

Posted: October 18, 2010

It's safe to assume that Red Bull New York will clinch Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference title later this week - but it won't be at the expense of the Union.

In front of its fourth sellout of the season (18,570), the Union dispatched a Red Bull side devoid of forward Thierry Henry, 2-1, Saturday at PPL Park. The win ensures Red Bull needs to defeat New England on Thursday night to clinch, while the Union will look to close out the season on a high when it travels to Columbus in hopes of upsetting the Crew, the second-best team in the conference.

The atmosphere of the home finale mimicked a European fixture as the Sky Blue-clad Union supporters club, the Sons of Ben, traded insults in the River End with the estimated 400 Red Bull supporters who took up much of Section 133.

The rivalry between the two sides already has been hostile. In April, during the first of two games over a 4-day period at Red Bull Arena, a group of RBNY supporters hurled stones and bottles at a bus containing Sons of Ben members, shattering one of the vehicle's windows.

This still fresh in mind, police and event staff littered the Red Bull area with a keen eye on anything that went beyond insults. Union president Tom Veit felt the need to keep things safe required extra vigilance.

"It's necessary. We have an obligation to our fans to keep it safe and enjoyable," Veit said. "So with that said, I'd rather have a lot of guys standing around doing nothing, than a few having to do something."

Goals from Fred (8th minute) and the second goal of the season for defender Michael Orozco Fiscal (28th) made a postgame celebration that included a fireworks show, players jumping into the stands and a personal thank-you from manager Peter Nowak all the more poignant.

The Union rank fourth in attendance in Major League Soccer with an average of 19,254 over 15 league games. In all, 288,810 attended games at PPL and the two MLS played games at Lincoln Financial Field while the 18,500-seat stadium in Chester was under construction. Seattle, with an average home attendance of 36,173, tops MLS followed by the Los Angeles Galaxy (21,183, 14 games played) and Toronto FC (20,453).

"We owed it to our fans, they have been great all season," said forward Sebastien Le Toux, who hit a slotted through-ball across the 18-yard box of RBNY goalkeeper Bouna Condoul, leading to Orozco Fiscal's game-winner. Le Toux leads the club with 13 goals and 11 assists, just four goals behind Galaxy forward Edson Buddle for MLS' Golden Boot.

"The way they have supported us shows that they care about us as a club, so we owed it to them to finish out at PPL with a win against New York," Le Toux added.

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