Welcome to the third installment of this special series as I look into the past of this club’s US Open Cup campaign as they get ready for their second US Open Cup Final since the 2003 season when they hosted the final at Giants Stadium.
This time we set our sites to a city that is not too far away and at the same time they are just a few hours from Red Bull Arena as we discuss these US Open Cup Games against the new annoyance in the Philadelphia Union.
Ever since they came around in 2010 which is the same year that opened Red Bull Arena, these two sides have been going at it with each other very hard and usually the home sides would take the victory in their stadiums.
After winning two goals to one in league action, both sides would face each other in a US Open Cup qualification match which was a few days after their first MLS match. Conor Chin would score a brace to lead the club into the next qualifier.
Sine then the Union haven’t won at the Cathedrial of football till they finally got their chance in 2015. It was on Fox Sports 1 in 2015 where the Red Bulls who were attacking throughout the first half looked like the better side, till a strange second half came out of nowhere.
Twice the Union caught the Red Bulls on the counter and converted their chances as they defeated the Red Bulls in league action on Sunday, May 24th. Both sides got a chance to face each other for the second time in Open Cup play in the Quarterfinals and of course General Manager Nick Sakewicz had to have it his way.
He forced the game to be played on an early afternoon in July and once again that Quarterfinal match was almost a carbon copy of the league match in May, but there were a few twists. The Union went down to ten men as Conor Casey saw a straight red on a poor challenge he created in the 40th minute.
Yet it was the same like the last league match as Eric Ayuk converted his chance in the 56th minute to take the lead, but this time however the Red Bulls found a way to equalize and force extra time as Lloyd Sam converted his second of 2015 and third in the US Open Cup inside 2nd half stoppage time.
After going thru an extra thirty minutes of extra time there were no goals scored and both sides went to a penalty kick shootout. Sadly they would go behind as Bradley Wright-Phillips took the first penalty and nailed the crossbar. Sheanon Williams converted for the lead.
Rounds two and three were converted by both sides till the fourth round as there was some controversy when Sam took his penalty and there was a possibility that the entire ball cross the goal line, but the assistant said no. While Luis Robles stops Fred Carreiro, but while Sacha Kljestan converted the third penalty, Fernando Aristeguieta converted the winning shot to knockout the Red Bulls.
The next season after defeating the Rochester Rhinos in the fourth round, they traveled to face the Union at Talen Energy Stadium, it looked like the Red Bulls were on their way as they dominated the first half with a Mike Grella and continue to create chances.
But once again something strange happened in the second half as the Union found a way to break thru the defense and it was Chris Pontius with a brace while getting help from Ilsinho crossing those balls inside the area and beating Ryan Meara
But finally some revenge was taken as the Red Bulls in this season’s US Open Cup fifth round edition would get a penalty shootout victory after ending in regulation and extra time at one goal a piece.
This time all the penalty kick takers would convert for the Red Bulls as Meara stopped Fafa Picault in the third round of the shootout to exact the revenge he and the club was looking for that put them back in to the Quarterfinals since the 2015 edition.
But not since those great battles with the Columbus Crew from the late 90’s to the early 2000’s have we seen this club have some solid US Open Cup games against their recent foes up and down Interstate 95, so far this side has taken the challenge to face the Red Bulls and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are draw with each other again for the 5th round in 2018.