PHILADELPHIA UNION VS. NEW YORK RED BULLS
TALEN ENERGY STADIUM, Chester, Pa.
U.S. Open Cup, Round of 16
June 29, 7 pm ET (YouTube.com)
Here’s hoping this Round of 16 matchup can equal the drama of these two teams created in their 2015 US Open Cup quarterfinal in July of last year, as a 10-man Union squad emerged victorious, 4-3 in a penalty-kick shootout, after a 1-1 tie that included a stoppage-time Red Bulls equalizer.
As we near the midpoint of the 2016 season, both clubs are positioned to be contenders for the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference with each having played 17 matches.
Wednesday’s USOC match will be the first meeting of 2016 between the East's first-place Union (26 points) and the third-place Red Bulls (23 points). They will face each other three more times during MLS regular season play on July 17 (FS1), October 1 (MLS LIVE) and October 23 (MLS LIVE).
The Union, who have just one loss at home this year (7-1-2 overall at Talen Energy Stadium), have some unfinished business in the Open Cup after hosting and losing the final in each of the previous two editions (2014 & 2015).
Manager Jim Curtin, who has a history of Open Cup success in Chicago, is expected to put out a near first-choice lineup if the victory in the previous round against Harrisburg City Islanders is any indication: The lone exceptions from their regular starting XI were backup goalkeeper John McCarthy, Ray Gaddis (backup right back) and Walter Restrepo (winger).
The Union needed a Roland Alberg stoppage-time winner to advance 3-2 against Harrisburg and salvage a match in which they lost a 2-0 lead at Talen Energy Stadium. The Dutchman, who will be a focus for the Red Bulls, is currently on a hot streak with seven goals in the club’s last four matches, including the USOC Round of 16 match. They'll need his goals with starting forward CJ Sapong still making his way back from a June 1 ankle injury.
NEW YORK RED BULLS
It will be interesting to see what kind of lineup RBNY manager Jesse Marsch sends out, especially given the club has a massive derby match looming at New York City FC on Sunday (July 3, 12 pm ET on ESPN). The Red Bulls are in the midst of a four-game stretch on the road that started in Salt Lake City last Wednesday (2-1 loss) and took them through Columbus on Saturday (1-1 draw). In total, they will have played six matches in a 19-day span by Sunday.
After a sputtering start to the year, the Red Bulls are now clicking in their high-press playing style, registering a 5-1-1 record in their last seven matches in all competitions, including a victory in the previous USOC round over Rochester Rhinos on a Sacha Kljestan penalty kick.
The club made it all the way to the final just once, losing 1-0 to the Chicago Fire in the 2003 title match when they were still called MetroStars. That match saw Marsch line up alongside current Philly manager Curtin as they defended the Fire colors at Giants Stadium.
PREVIOUS US OPEN CUP MEETINGS
The Philadelphia Union and New York Red Bulls have met twice before in US Open Cup play, with the each team claiming victory. Both games were played at Red Bull Arena.
April 27, 2010: The New York Red Bulls downed Philadelphia 2-1 in a US Open Cup play-in match for the right to join seven other MLS clubs vying for two berths in the USOC Round of 16.
A Sebastien Le Toux goal made things interesting late, but the Red Bulls held on for the win courtesy of two Conor Chin first-half goals.
July 21, 2015: The Philadelphia Union advanced to the semifinals of the 2015 edition via a penalty kick shootout, a result which seemed improbable after Conor Casey was sent off in the 40th minute. But Eric Ayuk goal gave the 10-man Union a lead, only for Lloyd Sam to equalize in stoppage time and send the match to extra time.
The Union survived the extra periods for a penalty-kick shootout that saw RBNY’s Bradley Wright-Phillips miss a penalty and Union goalkeeper John McCarthy coming up with a big save on Sam, as Philly moved on.
PHILADELPHIA UNION IN USOC:
2010: Play-In Round (lost 2-1 to New York Red Bulls)
2011: Play-In Round (lost 4-2 on PKs to D.C. United, 2-2 draw a.e.t)
2012: Semifinals (lost 2-0 to Sporting Kansas City)
2013: Round of 16 (lost 3-1 to D.C. United)
2014: Final (lost 3-1 to Seattle Sounders a.e.t)
2015: Final (lost 7-6 on PKs to Sporting Kansas City, 1-1 draw a.e.t.)
NEW YORK RED BULLS IN USOC:
(NOTE: MetroStars from 1996-2006)
1997: Semifinals (lost 2-1 to Dallas Burn a.e.t.)
1998: Semifinals (lost 1-0 to Columbus Crew)
1999: Round of 16 (lost 3-2 to Staten Island Vipers)
2000: Semifinals (lost 3-2 to Miami Fusion)
2001: Round of 32 (lost 4-1 to Charleston Battery)
2002: Quarterfinals (lost 2-1 to Columbus Crew)
2003: Final (lost 1-0 to Chicago Fire)
2004: Round of 16 (lost 1-0 to Charleston Battery)
2005: Round of 16 (lost 3-1 to Rochester Rhinos)
2006: Quarterfinals (lost 3-1 to D.C. United)
2007: Qualifiers (lost 3-1 to LA Galaxy a.e.t. in qualification finals)
2008: Round of 16 (lost 2-0 to Crystal Palace Baltimore)
2009: Qualifiers (lost 5-3 to D.C. United in qualification finals)
2010: Round of 16 (lost 1-0 to Harrisburg City Islanders a.e.t.)
2011: Quarterfinals (lost 4-0 to Chicago Fire)
2012: Round of 16 (lost 3-1 to Harrisburg City Islanders a.e.t.)
2013: Round of 16 (lost 4-2 to New England Revolution)
2014: Round of 32 (lost 3-0 to New York Cosmos)
2015: Quarterfinals (lost 4-3 on PKs to Philadelphia, 1-1 draw a.e.t.)