For the first time ever in team history (probably) the Red Bulls decided to take the US Open Cup seriously. The not only put in to host a Quarterfinal match, they fought to keep it despite having a conflict with a friendly with Chelsea tomorrow. So, when it was announced that the match would take place at 4 pm on a Tuesday afternoon in late July, people were unhappy.
The match started out with both teams trading shots, seeing who would crack first. The Philadelphia Union started to get the better of possession and seemed to be dealing better with the heat while the Red Bulls were dealing with it for the 2nd time in 4 days after a match in Florida on Saturday. Then in the 40th minute, Connor Casey ran into the back of Connor Lade and changed the complexion of the game as he was sent off, leaving the Union down a man.
The Red Bulls couldn't capitalize before halftime, but they would have the advantage in the 2nd half with an extra man and the Union having to fight the heat, however, the Union struck first. Eric Ayuk scored in the 54th minute off of a counter attack that left Luis Robles alone to deal with two attackers.
The rest of the half was desperation time for the Red Bulls as multiple attempts missed the target, that is when they were able to get through the Union defense. In fairness to the Union, they looked like the better side throughout most of the second half and the Red Bulls didn't have much of an answer.
In stoppage time of the 2nd half, looking at elimination, the Red Bulls finally found an answer. As the ball ping ponged around in the Union box, Mike Grella got his head on it and put it in the direction of Lloyd Sam, who was able to quickly turn around and get it past a diving John McCarthy. The goal made the score 1-1 and sent the game to Extra Time.
The first half of Extra Time ended up in a stalemate with neither team getting any real chances on goal. The second almost saw Fernando Aristeguieta score after getting past Matt Miazga, but Robles came up big with a stop. The Red Bulls got a shot off just shy of the 110th minute but Manolo Sanchez hit the post and the ball deflected wide. Sanchez had another shot as he got his foot way out on a Sam header but wasn't able to do much and put it right at McCarthy. The best chance for the Red Bulls came into the 120th minute when Bradley Wright-Phillips got in behind the back line and put a header in, but was flagged for offside, and Extra Time would end at 1-1, so it was off to penalty kicks.
Penalty Kick Results:
The Red Bulls lost in penalty kicks, but there was some controversy. Sam's PK was stopped by McCarthy but rolled towards goal. At least part of the ball made it over the line, but there was no definitive proof that Sam had scored. The loss means that the Red Bulls are now out of the US Open Cup, and will focus the rest of their season on MLS.
You could tell how much the heat affected the Red Bulls. It was their second game in heat after playing in Orlando just 3 days prior. Despite that though, they could've been the better team.
For the second straight game, the Red Bulls have been given a man advantage. For the second straight game, they looked worse when given the advantage. It's rare to get it, but the Red Bulls need to be better when playing in that position.
While the Red Bulls are out and that means one less trophy to play for this year, the Red Bulls are least get some relief on their schedule. The next round of the US Open Cup is August 11-12. If they had advanced, the Red Bulls would be looking at a stretch of 3 straight weeks of midweek matches. At least now they'll actually get a break in August.