NYCFC falls to Union, 3-1, in Eastern Conference Final

Maxi Moralez scored one goal in NYCFC's loss to Philadelphia.|Art or Photo Credit: AP

Philadelphia Union Goals: Carranza 65', Gazdag 67', Burke 76'

New York City Goals: Moralez 57'

Quick Read

New York City Football Club’s 2022 MLS Playoff dream has come to an end. A 3-1 defeat at Philadelphia Union in the Eastern Conference Final saw the Pennsylvania outfit book their place in the MLS Cup Final. Maxi Moralez's third goal of post-season had given the holders a 57th-minute lead but three goals in 11 minutes from Julian Carranza, Dániel Gazdag and Cory Burke handed the hosts the victory, as City's 2022 season reached its conclusion.

Match Recap

City traveled to Chester as the last away team to have won on Subaru Park soil 11 months ago: a dramatic 2-1 win in the 2021 Eastern Conference Final en route to our maiden MLS Cup success.

Interim head coach Nick Cushing made just one change to the side that triumphed at CF Montréal in the Semifinals last time out, as 21-year-old Brooklyn-born Justin Haak replaced the injured Maxime Chanot. Alfredo Morales and Tayvon Gray were named on the bench.

Looking to make home advantage count, the Union dominated the opening 45 minutes. Kai Wagner forced Sean Johnson into the first save, before the hosts found the back of the net through Gazdag’s header – only for the offside flag to be raised on both occasions.

Weathering the early storm, City grew into the game and called Andre Blake into action for the first time shortly before the half hour, as Gabriel Pereira drilled low towards the nearpost.

Carranza then blazed over from distance, and Johnson was alert once more, bravely diving to claim Gazdag’s deflected effort with Carranza lurking to pounce on the rebound.

Both sides had chances to snatch a late first-half lead, as Thiago Martins nodded wide and Carranza fired straight at Johnson, but a feisty and stop-start opening 45 ended goalless.

Cushing's side started the second half brightly but it was the home side who carved the first opening of the second period, as Johnson thwarted Mikael Uhre at his near post.

Minutes later, City broke the deadlock as Moralez continued his excellent scoring streak, bagging his third goal in as many games, finishing off another superb passing move by drilling Santiago Rodríguez's lay-off low into the bottom corner.

It was his fifth playoff goal for the Club - the most of any City player - with the Argentine involved in 11 of our 20 post-season goals.

Our lead was almost doubled before the hour when Blake produced a sensational stop to deny Alex Callens' bullet header, which proved to be a turning point in the contest.

Inspired, the hosts capitalized on the shift in momentum with two quickfire goals, leveling through Carranza who latched onto Jakob Glesnes's quickly-taken free-kick and drilled past Johnson, before Gazdag smashed in from close range from Carranza's nod-down two minutes later.

Burke effectively killed the contest with 14 minutes of normal time to go, bursting forward and lashing into the top corner, despite Anton Tinnerholm's best efforts to clear.

Though Rodríguez came close to reducing the deficit, drawing another smart stop from Blake, it would be the closest City came to a comeback, as our defense of the MLS Cup came to an end.