HARRISON, N.J. – A thrilling US Open Cup quarterfinal match went down to the wire, as the 10-man Philadelphia Union defeated the New York Red Bulls 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 score at the end of regulation and extra time.
From the onset, everything seemed to be going New York’s way as the home side created chance after chance. But a Union team missing forward C.J. Sapong did just enough to nick the result via a 4-3 penalty shootout win, sending them to their third Open Cup semifinal in four years.
Both Jesse Marsch and Jim Curtin fielded near first-choice starting lineups on a hot afternoon, and the Red Bulls looked to impose their will in the opening minutes. Inside of five minutes, Felipe was able to walk through the heart of the Union defense and unleash a curling shot on frame. Union goalkeeper John McCarthy was up to the task, however, making the first of nine saves on the night.
McCarthy would again stand tall in the in the 18th minute to deny RBNY midfielder Lloyd Sam from close range. After a flubbed bicycle kick attempt from forward Anatole Abang, the Englishman collected the deflected shot in the box and fired towards goal, but the 23-year-old held firm to keep the New York off the scoreboard.
As the first half entered its waning moments, the Union were reduced to 10 men as Philadelphia forward Conor Casey was shown a straight red card. After getting his pocket picked by RBNY defender Connor Lade, the former USMNT forward came in hard on Lade, stomping on his calf in the process.
In the 55th minute, the Union made the Red Bulls pay for their wasteful ways. A move beginning with a clever dummy from Vincent Nogueira sprung the visitors on a counter attack that ultimately ended with the Frenchman playing a square ball to a wide-open Eric Ayuk, who calmly placed his shot past a helpless Luis Robles.
New York pressed in search of the equalizer for the remainder of the match, but each chance went begging until late in the game.
With the Union mere seconds away from a gutsy win, the Red Bulls were finally able to break through to find the tying goal. Winger Mike Grella managed to latch on to a looped ball into the box, heading across goal to Sam, who took one touch to control and another to fire home past McCarthy.
Extra time saw two tired teams take to the pitch, but the Red Bulls continued their barrage on the Philly defense. The man-advantage saw the likes of Bradley Wright-Phillips and Grella with some golden opportunities to break the deadlock, but the Union defense held firm, as McCarthy’s heroics sent the match to penalties.
Wright-Phillips missed the first spot kick and McCarthy saved Sam’s effort from 12 yards in the fourth round, allowing Fernando Aristeguieta’s effort to propel the Union into the semis in the fifth round of penalties.
The Union now await the winner of the Chicago Fire and Orlando City SC matchup in the semifinals, while the eliminated Red Bulls face a quick turnaround with English Premier League Champions Chelsea coming to town on Wednesday night.