The New York Red Bulls may have been taken the US Open Cup seriously this year, but their dreams of winning the tournament nonetheless came to an abrupt halt on Tuesday night after suffering a 3-1 extra time defeat in the fourth round to USL Pro club Harrisburg City Islanders at Skyline Sports Complex in Harrisburg, Pa.
Former Red Bulls forward Sainey Touray led the way for the City Islanders, scoring the opener and the winner in a match that turned controversial in the added frames.
Down 2-1, New York pushed furiously for the equalizer, and seemed to have found their best chance at it midway through the second extratime period. But their appeals for a penalty kick were denied despite clear handling of the ball following a cross from the right flank.
That helped open the door for Harrisburg to score an insurance goal, as former Chicago Fire draftee Lucky Mkosana fired home a thunderous shot in the waning moments of the match following a quick corner kick.
It was a shocking end to a night that had begun well for New York, as they sent attack after attack at the City Islanders. But the hosts scored first when Touray headed a cross from Brian Ombiji past rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara and into the back of the net in the 13th minute.
The early goal seemed to rattle the shorthanded Red Bulls’ confidence, with the midfield struggling to connect on passes a week after putting forth a dominating performance in a 3-0 win over the Charleston Battery in the third round of the tournament.
The Red Bulls finally pulled level in the second half as rookie Connor Lade scored his second goal in the past two games, tallying in the 59th minute. Lade got on the end of a long ball from center back Markus Holgersson and fired a shot to the far post past Nick Noble.
The visitors had multiple chances to find a winner before the end of regulation, but poor finishing and shoddy set piece execution saw the game head into extra- ime.
That’s where Touray again punished the Red Bulls, hitting a delicately lobbed effort over a diving Meara in the 94th minute.
Short of options due to a combination of injuries and international call-ups, Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe stuck with the players he had, hoping they would contrive a way to find an equalizer.
They might have, had a penalty kick awarded. But it wasn’t, and New York allowed Mkosana to hit a dagger in the 118th minute.
The Red Bulls’ sole focus now turns to MLS action. New York return to league play on June 17 with a game at Toyota Park against the Chicago Fire.
The City Islanders move on to face the Philadelphia Union, their MLS affiliates, in the next round.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.