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New York edges Philadelphia to seal playoff spot

Oct 21, 2011 - 2:36 AM Harrison, NJ (Sports Network) - Red Bull New York clinched a postseason berth Thursday night in its last match of the regular season, as it won for just the second time all season without Thierry Henry.

Faryd Mondragon's own goal 8 minutes into the fixture lifted New York to a 1-0 win over Philadelphia, which entered the game tied atop the Eastern Conference on points with Sporting Kansas City.

New York (10-8-16) underachieved all season, and could enter the postseason as the lowest seed if the Houston Dynamo earn even a draw against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday.

Philadelphia (11-8-15) had its eight-match undefeated streak snapped, and the Union will have to wait until the weekend to see if they slip down the Eastern Conference standings.

With Henry, who was suspended after a red card last week, on the bench wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a pink scarf, replacement Dane Richards helped produce the lone goal at Red Bull Arena.

Jan Gunnar Solli delivered a cross from just outside the right edge of the box that an unmarked Richards ran under and headed off the left post. The rebound deflected off Mondragon and into the goal, putting New York in control early.

Richards moved up from his usual job in midfield to forward in Henry's absence and the early play helped erase the loss of the Frenchman, who leads the squad with 14 goals this season.

Needing only a draw to secure the final of 10 playoff berths, New York allowed just a single shot on goal, and created a number of chances along the way. The team had won just one of its previous six games when Henry did not play.

Richards forced a save from Mondragon inside 20 minutes, and Joel Lindpere was unable to solve the Union goalie late in the first half. Tim Ream directed an open header wide left early in the second half and Luke Rodgers missed an open net in the 59th when he could have sealed the victory.

But other than a Sebastien Le Toux free kick that found the net but was called back for offsides, Philadelphia never came close to answering the early goal.

The Union could remain as high as second and get a bye in the playoffs or fall as far as fourth, and face a wild-card match in the middle of next week. Third place would also secure a bye.

New York will finish no higher than ninth, meaning its road to an MLS Cup will be tough. But with Henry rested, and stand-in captain Rafael Marquez in decent form, the Red Bulls could be a tough out in the postseason.