Union eliminate Cosmos from U.S. Open Cup in controversial 2-1 victory

IMAGE, DAVE MARTINEZ, EMPIRE OF SOCCER

CHESTER, PA. — The New York Cosmos’ U.S. Open Cup run is over after a controversial and confrontational 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union.

Sebastian Le Toux put the Union up for good with his second goal of the match in the 115th minute of overtime, beating Cosmos keeper Jimmy Maurer on a questionable penalty call to help Philadelphia advance. The Union now look towards the winner of the New England Revolution vs. Rochester Rhino for a July 8th quarterfinal fixture at PPL Park.

Referee Ismail Elfath drew the ire of both teams throughout most of the evening, but particularly in overtime. Cosmos boss Giovanni Savarese was livid on the sideline as New York’s Mads Stokkelien earned a clear penalty shout that was overlooked by the referees. Moments later, the officiating crew rewarded Philadelphia a PK on a questionable Jimmy Ockford challenge to Maurice Edu.

“No question,” Savarese said of the foul on Stokkelien. “I know so, clear. It was more PK that one then the one they gave for them. I don’t even think [Ockford’s foul] was a PK.

“So we been robbed and it’s shame because the Philadelphia doesn’t deserves it and the New York Cosmos doesn’t deserve it. It was a good game, two teams came to try to play, but the referee we saw very clearly that you don’t give a PK at that moment. We had another one questionable at the end of the game for our team.

“It was clear today that it was a show and the principle guy in the show was the referee.”

The controversy spilled into a melee in the 117th minute, with Cosmos players Ayoze and Ockford earning red cards, and Philadelphia’s Michael Lahoud also being sent off. To make matters worse, Alecko Eskandarian was also ejected from the match — his second ejection as a Cosmos assistant. He joined Carlos Llamosa who earned his second ejection as a Cosmos assistant earlier in the game.

Up until the final 15 minutes, both teams played a cautious game. The Cosmos deployed their high-press system for most of the first half to little avail while the Union found life with their counter attack. Philadelphia began to tip the scales in their favor with Joseph Nane leaving the match due to an undisclosed injury. Seldom tested Dane Murphy made his way into the match, settling next to Danny Szetela.

“It was difficult because it was an early substitution; Nane is an important player and the condition of us to make another substitution,” Savarese said. “And then towards the end, I had to be very careful because we only had one more substitution. Either wait for the guys in the back or put something you know on top so it was a difficult situation and I had to hold on as much as I could.”

Cristian Maidana had the best chance of the half, forcing Maurer into a save and nearly creating the rebound for Amobi Okugo to bury.

Despite Philadelphia’s revival, it was the Cosmos that struck first. New York played a four on three counter attack, with Szetela sneaking a pass towards Alessandro Noselli on the far right. The Italian struck true, powering his shot past the body of Andre Blake for the lead.

Nearly thirty seconds later, the Union responded. Maligned forward Andrew Wenger beat Roversio on the far right wing, sending a perfect through ball past Maurer and Carlos Mendes to the feet of Le Toux for the easy tap in.

The goal revived Philadelphia, who shelled New York for the remainder of the half.

Overtime saw both teams take quality chances on net. New York’s Murphy snapped a header on frame that went wide of Blake. The Union answered with searching through balls on the backline — all of which went wide of target.

The match seemed destined for penalties until Elfath’s controversial call in they box. While Maurer guess correctly on the ensuing penalty kick, Le Toux’s shot had the pace and placement to beat him.

“I know it was gonna be this type of game because we came here to try and play,” Savarese said. “We didn’t want to hide. We tried to utilize some of the things we could utilize. They had some good players that created difficult situations. We saw that their goal also was a quick counterattack and they were able to capitalize right after our goal.”

The Cosmos run ends just shy of the quarterfinals. They now look towards the NASL Fall Championship in hopes of securing a postseason spot in the league knockout rounds.

  • Snags

    Feel bad for you guys. Refs obviously in favor of MLS teams in this game, Indy v Columbus, and – obviously – the Atlanta v Colorado game where they threw all they had at ASFC. Shameful.

    • Anthony J. Merced

      Managed to FINALLY watch the game after numerous Youtube problems. Must say that Ockford pulled Edu down without trying to play the ball. I agree with the call. Yes the refereeing wasn’t great and he definitely missed the Cosmos penalty but I’m not liking the talk I see on boards and social media about referees getting paid off. Bad calls happen and influence games all the time. It sucks but its not like the Cosmos didn’t have their chances for the game to not get to this point.

      • Snags

        Yeah, match fixing never happens in this sport. Especially when there is millions of dollars on the line in a battle between two leagues that are competing for markets, etc. And it’s not like MLS has a profitable mobeymaking partnership with US Soccer in Soccer United Marketing. So US Soccer, the organization running the Open Cup, would never show bias towards MLS.

        Complete crazy talk, I agree.

        • Jeff

          MLS and US Soccer working together? Never US Soccer represents all clubs, even in the US Open Cup. Except when those clubs face MLS McDonald franchises. The ball is always in favor of one side of the field. These shenanigans need to stop.

  • Pingback: US Open Cup: Le Toux, Philadelphia Union Doop New York Cosmos - FanSided - Sports News, Entertainment, Lifestyle & Technology - 280+ Sites()

  • Akbar

    MLS needs to get out of biz with US Soccer on the whole SUM thing. Too much conflict of interest. Too many questionable calls in this tourney so far.

  • jspech

    One think for sure, MLS is on notice. Everyone of their teams will have to respect our Club, New York Cosmos on the field!!!

    No way this Ref wasn’t corrupt, no way.

    • Akbar

      Wink wink, nudge nudge. Of course not.

  • Micah

    It’s a damn shame when a tournament match ends up decided by the referee. Surely the US Open Cup deserves better refereeing than this? A lot of people at the game have also been saying there was a clear bias toward the MLS team.

    Best of luck to the other NASL teams. We’re rooting for you! Also kudos to the Philly fans. Several people at the match said they were pretty chill.

    Ismail Elfath…wait, wasn’t he the guy who was debuted as a ref in that RBNY-Montreal match two years ago? The one who made several questionable decisions like only granting a yellow to a studs-up challenge?

  • jspech

    And one more thing, I will support New York Cosmos until I die, but I hope they stay Independent from this sham of a D1 league.

    They can suceed, winning get to the Champion League & even winning it. Just get us a Stadium, anywhere at this point. Straight up. Go Mos, they are worried.

    • Silverbacks Fan

      You aren’t the only fans that feel that way. A lot of us down here will never support an MLS club.

      • jspech

        RIGHT ON BRO!

  • PVT

    Bullshit if you think that was a penalty, bullshit. This game was a sham, and the referees should be ashamed of themselves. Absolute disgrace for the game to end this way after a hard fought match, an injustice to Maurer and the boys who fought hard all game.

    This is going to be the norm, its us against the world. I mean it when I say that I hate MLS. I love the Cosmos, everything else can go to hell.

    • Akbar

      MLS making themselves look worse by the year as they continue, by any means necessary apparently, to try and hang on to this closed-league NFL model. Footy fans in this country becoming more and more educated on how the game is run everywhere else. MLS looking more an more like corrupt oligarchs.