The 2013 Supporters' Shield winner had drawn four and lost two of their opening six fixtures prior to the Union clash so it was vital that they produced a winning result.
Thierry Henry and Lloyd Sam had the Red Bulls two goals ahead with just over 20 minutes remaining before defender Ibrahim Sekagya was sent off for handling the ball in the area in the 78th minute.
Philly were awarded a penalty as a result, which was converted by Sebastian Le Toux, but thankfully New York held on for a vital set of three points which eased some pressure on head coach Petke.
"Let's be honest here, we are seven games in and we're without a win [prior to tonight], but only two losses though," said Petke.
"Obviously, there is some tension within myself. I wouldn't call it outright pressure, but this is New York and this is the Red Bulls. Everyone who has been around this team long enough knows the pressure I put on myself, so, yeah, you saw a lot of relief after that second goal went in because the way things have been going this year, a one-goal lead is not good enough and as you saw what happened with the penalty kick.
"Yeah, definitely a relief. I feel like it's a bit of a monkey off the back. Last year, we had a slow start, but this year it dragged on a couple games more. For me, it's getting this out of the way and now moving on."
Skipper Henry scored his second goal of the season when he side-footed home Roy Miller's neat cut-back in the 57th minute and was quick to suggest that the Red Bulls playing group never got too down on themselves following their winless beginning.
"What [do you do], you give up? That's not the way to do it. You don't give up," said Henry. "You come back and try to play harder and that's what we did today."
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