CHESTER, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union lost a man but never lost their fight.
In a thrilling US Open Cup contest against rival D.C. United at PPL Park on Tuesday night, the Union rallied for two second-half goals with 10 men to earn a 2-1 victory and advance to the USOC quarters, where they’ll face either the New York Red Bulls or the New York Cosmos.
Fabinho scored the winner after Eric Ayuk leveled the match for the Union, who were playing shorthanded – and without a true striker – after C.J. Sapong was sent off for a straight red card in the 17th minute.
Fabinho, a second-half sub, was the unlikely hero, combining with Cristian Maidana for a give-and-go before beating D.C. United goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra top shelf for the 79th-minute go-ahead goal that electrified the crowd.
Jairo Arrieta scored the only goal for D.C. United, who rested some of their regulars with a cross-country trip to Seattle looming later this week.
For the second time in four days, a driving rainstorm hit PPL Park with Tuesday’s contest getting postponed in the 15th minute due to a thunderstorm as players retreated to their locker rooms for about 45 minutes.
Just 10 minutes after play resumed, the Union went down a man when Sapong was called for a questionable red card while jumping for a 50-50 ball and catching Kofi Apare with an elbow – a call that the Union players, coaches and fans vehemently protested.
And three minutes after that, D.C. United took advantage when Arrieta buried one into the back of the net after running onto a cross from Miguel Aguilar that squirted to the middle of the box.
And in the 56th minute, they found their equalizer when Ayuk finished off a cross from Sheanon Williams, who was sprung free with a great, over-the-top ball from Maidana.
The goal came just five minutes after Andrew Wenger, who’s yet to score this season, managed to hit both posts on a sliding shot in the box.
After falling behind 2-1, Markus Halsti nearly equalized for D.C. United but had a shot carom off the post. The visitors also hit the post in the 23rd minute after Union goalkeeper John McCarthy got his fingertips on a Facundo Coria cross.
D.C. United has a quick turnaround with a road match at Seattle on Friday. The Union are off until hosting Portland on July 11.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.