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Red Bulls clinch East win 4-1 win over the Union

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The New York Red Bulls dominated early to cruise to the Eastern Conference title.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Needing only one point to clinch first place in the Eastern Conference, the New York Red Bulls cruised to a 4-1 over the Philadelphia Union.

The Red Bulls got off to a blazing fast start, thanks to Mike Grella. The Glen Cove native pounced on an errant back pass immediately after the kick off and saw his shot deflected past Andre Blake at his near post. The goal ended up breaking the MLS record for fastest goal scored in a match, clocking in at just 7 seconds.

In the 4th minute, the Red Bulls would double the lead. Off of a Sacha Kljestan corner kick, Damien Perrinelle headed the ball down to Bradley Wright-Phillips, who calmly picked his spot.

With the Union reeling, the Red Bulls poured on the pressure. With Wright-Phillips creating a giveaway in the attacking third, Dax McCarty spread the ball wide to Grella. "Grelladinho" sauntered into the box, turned his man inside out with a nifty shot fake, and blasted the ball past a helpless Andre Blake.

Jesse Marsch's side was able to add on one more goal, this time through the unlikeliest of sources. After some crafty work on the wing, Lloyd Sam's cross found Kemar Lawrence at the back post for an easy tap-in. The goal was Lawrence's first MLS career goal.

The result means that the Red Bulls have officially clinched first place in the East. As for the Supporters' Shield, the Red Bulls are now tied on points with FC Dallas. They own the tiebreaker, however, so that leaves them in first place. A win against the Chicago Fire would clinch the Supporters' Shield for the Red Bulls.

Three Thoughts

Mike Grella

Grella was a huge difference-maker today. Asides from scoring the two goals, he managed to overcome his tendency to drift centrally. He was able to spread the defense out with his movement off the ball, and when he was on the ball, he was more or less able to do what he wanted. Confidence is going to be key for Grella going forward if he is going to be a reliable weapon going forward.

Robles is a brick wall

While Robles didn't really have much to do on the night, he made some pretty difficult saves towards the end of the game. The defense has looked pretty solid today without Matt Miazga, and that has a lot to do with how Robles organized the back line. He's arguably the best goalkeeper in club history, as shown by the fact that he is now the goalkeeper with the most wins in club history.

Home field advantage

The Red Bulls operate on completely different levels when they're on the road, so locking down the first place spot in the East will help them out immensely down the stretch. They're 12-3-2 at home, so the odds of them being able to get results at home are very high.