As we continue to sit in our homes waiting for the restart of the 2020 MLS Season, let’s take a look back to another big moment for this Red Bulls side that had them making a big run in the 2017 US Open Cup.
It was a strange season for the club starting their Open Cup run as they faced three opponents in MLS that were also their challengers in three consecutive rounds. Defeating NYCFC in the fourth round, then losing in league play.
Then they faced the Philadelphia Union as they took a two-goal clean sheet victory at Subaru Park, then these two sides came to Red Bull Arena in the fifth round with a penalty shootout win by the team in red.
Then it was a trip to the New England region as the Red Bulls earned a big win at Gillette Stadium against the Revolution and stayed in Boston as their quarterfinal match was taking place on the campus of Harvard University.
It would be a Bradley Wright-Phillips tally late in the second half, that would propel the Red Bulls into the semifinals, defeating a 10-man Revolution side for the first time since the 2003 tournament.
Their opponents in the semifinals would be FC Cincinnati, who were playing in the United Soccer Leagues, as their journey began in the second round of that edition of the tournament, defeating AFC Cleveland.
They also defeated their natural rivals in Louisville City, followed by a win against their in-state rivals in the Columbus Crew, followed by a penalty shootout victory against the Chicago Fire after a scoreless draw in the Fifth Round.
Most of the games were a one-goal victory, and all the goals were scored by Djiby Fall. He converted the lone goal in that win against Miami FC. Sadly he also earned his third yellow card of the tournament that would suspend him for the Semi-Finals.
It was a magical night at Nipper Stadium as 33,250 fans filled up the college football stadium, to see this big match up and the right to take on Sporting Kansas City in the Championship Final. As the game began, it was FC Cincinnati giving problems to the Red Bulls.
Ryan Meara who was the designated goalkeeper for the Open Cup games made some solid saves till Corben Bone converted his chance in the 31st minute, then in the 62nd minute, Austin Berry scored from a corner kick, that made the scoreline two-goals to nil.
But that scoreline is the most dangerous in soccer as the Red Bulls scored two goals within three minutes, which began in the 75th minute. A cross from Derick Etienne Jr., was headed down, but a loose rebound gave Gonzalo Veron the chance to pull one back.
Then it was Bradley Wright-Phillips who scored the equalizer as the cross from Tyler Adams came from a deep position, then BWP headed the ball inside the near post to level the score a two, to force extra time.
In the extra time two things happened that gave the Red Bulls the result that was needed to advance to the Championship Final. First it was the go ahead goal converted by Wright-Phillips who got an amazing cross from Sal Zizzo.
He leapt high once again and converted the chance with his head inside the back post to take the lead, then after the restart, Tyler Adams bails out Ryan Meara as he was well off his line on the next attack by the home side and covered the near post to keep the ball out.
After the final whistle blew the Red Bulls would stamp their tickets to Children’s Mercy Park where they eventually would fall to Sporting Kansas City in the 2017 final.
But what I remember about that run was the quirky scheduling that happened playing one opponent in two separate competitions three times, getting a win against a big challenger that is now in MLS, then BWP converting four times in this tournament, with Ryan Meara playing very strong in goal.
Hopefully we will see another run like this shortly for the Red Bulls when the 2020 Open Cup Edition does get back on track, but boy was that run nice to see from that side in just a short time.
Follow US Soccer’s Open Cup twitter handle as that broadcast will be shown in it’s entirety, or just look below for the highlights of that fantastic comeback victory.