July 21, 2015
AGAINST THE GRAIN
Red Bulls enjoy huge advantage, suffer Open Cup elimination by 10-man Union
By Brian Trusdell
|LLoyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips both missed their penalty-kick attempts in the shootout.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Soccer News Net Contributor
HARRISON, N.J. – It was almost as if New York had too many advantages.
Playing at home, getting a man advantage in 40th minute, and outshooting the Philadelphia Union, 32-8, still wasn't enough to keep the Red Bulls from being eliminated from the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday.
Despite the first-half ejection of Union forward Conor Casey, despite scoring an equalizing goal in the fourth-minute of second-half injury time and despite hitting the post in extra time, the best New York could muster was a 1-1 draw in 120 minutes before losing on penalties, 4-3.
“Even when we did get the chances, we hit the post, or the keeper was making a fabulous save,” said midfielder Mike Grella, who was thwarted in extra time by the extended leg of goalkeeper John McCarthy. “It was a tough one. It just wasn't our day.”
The frustration was amplified by losing once again to their I-95 rivals, who won 2-0 on May 24 at Red Bull Arena despite New York dominating play and outshooting the Union 15-7.
“They were very similar games against Philadelphia and how we walk away with two losses is pretty surprising,” Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch said.
The result moved Philadelphia within one win of returning to the title game, where it lost to Seattle last
year, and continued the frustration of the Red Bulls, who have not advanced past the quarterfinals since they reached the title game in 2003 – when the team was known as the MetroStars.
The game began with a peculiar 4 p.m. weekday kickoff due to Red Bull Arena being the venue for an international friendly between Paris Saint-Germain and Fiorentina 4½ hours later. That meant a start in 91-degree heat and 39 percent humidity before an announced sparse crowd of 9,272.
Both sides used virtually full-strength lineups, even with New York scheduled to play Chelsea in an international friendly Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena.
The Red Bulls had chances throughout the first half (they outshot Philadelphia 11-1), highlighted by a dramatic bicycle-kick attempt by Anatole Abang in the 18th minute. Maurice Edu blocked the shot with his rear and McCarthy pushed a follow up shot by Lloyd Sam wide for a corner
The seemingly killer blow came when Casey, who was in position to score in the penalty area against Conor Lade one-on-one. But Lade poked away the ball, sprinted around Casey and got to it first.
In a fit of frustration, Casey lunged to get it back, tripped Lade and ended up getting ejected.
Philadelphia coach Jim Curtin slumped his head and buried his face in his hands.
“Losing a man that early is never a part of the plan,” he said. “We had to hang on. We knew they were going to come at us. They're a very good team. They can shoot the ball from distance. They got the ball wide a lot. They put in a ton of crosses.
“It just took guts. At the end of the day that's all that mattered.”
Despite not getting a goal before halftime, New York picked up in the second half where it left off in the first.
Sam sprinted to the byline in the 48th minute and sent in a low cross to Abang in the middle of the area. The Cameroonian striker made good contact but McCarthy was well positioned, reached high to tip and then grab.
The Union barely seemed able to get out of its own half. But in the 55th it did. Sebastian Le Toux fed a streaking Vincent Nogueira as he sped toward the area and the French midfielder sent a ball across the six.
Ayuk sprinted in from the backside of the play unmarked and easily volleyed it past goalkeeper Luis Robles.
The Red Bulls appeared staggered as Ayuk's goal breathed energy and enthusiasm into Philadelphia's attack if not much creativity.
But within 15 minutes, the Red Bulls were swarming over McCarthy and Philadelphia again.
Curtin inserted two defensive substitutions while Marsch countered with Sal Zizzo for Felipe Martins and Manolo Sanchez for center back Damien Perrinelle.
When fourth official Consalvo Turchi signed five minutes of injury time, the thin crowd let out a roar. And the Red Bulls needed nearly all of it.
With the defense acting like a picket fence and McCarthy diving to get a hand to whatever got through, it appeared Philadelphia might survive. But defender Matt Miazga started the equalizing play by hitting a shot that Edu blocked and Grella was able to head back into the middle.
Sam settled the ball of his thigh at the six, turned and finally was able to a low ball past McCarthy with about a minute and a half of stoppage time left.
“I thought once we got the goal, we'd definitely get a second in extra time, or we'd run over them,” Grella said.
Deep into the second extra period it looked that way.
The Red Bulls had three prime chances to win in it. Manolo Sanchez hit the post in the 111th minute and three minutes later volleyed a shot from the edge of the six into McCarthy's hands. Grella turned and hit a low shot from the six in the 115th minute that McCarthy blocked with his extended right leg.
“At that point, you just got to keep believing, thinking the next chance will come, the next chance will come, but especially when you waste a chance that good, you're usually not going to get let off the hook at this level,” Sanchez said.
When penalties finally came, Bradley Wright-Phillips knocked his attempt off the crossbar and then McCarthy made a scrambling dive to just keep Sam's try from sneaking over the line to enable the Union to win.
“For me, the game probably shouldn't have gotten to penalties,” Marsch said. “Certainly I feel that if we're sharper, we put that game away early.”