Red Bulls Prevail on Penalties to Advance in Open Cup

DDc51TbXsAAVN8L

By BRIAN TRUSDELL

Open Cup II logoHARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls needed penalty kicks to end a two-game losing streak to the Philadelphia Union in the U.S. Open Cup, prevailing, 5-3, Wednesday night and advancing to the quarterfinals.

The victory came after a 1-1 draw, a match that saw Philadelphia tie the game in the 86th minute and threaten several times in the extra period including a shot off the post.

Having lost to Philadelphia in each of the last two years, the déjà vu feeling crept into the Red Bulls consciousness.
 
“I think I probably felt that a little more when it got to be 1-1 and in the later stages they hit the post,” New York Coach Jesse Marsch said.
 
“It was tough not to question ourselves in that moment. It was a gut check for sure,” the captain Sacha Kljestan said. “I think in overtime we had the better of play, the better of chances. I think we were starting to tire physically, so it became a game which should have never happened.
 
“Gut check for sure.”

The Red Bulls reached the final eight for the second time in three years and the fourth time since they played in the final in 2003. They will next play New England in Cambridge, Mass., on July 13.

Felipe Martins converted the winning penalty after seldom-used goalkeeper Ryan Meara dived and tipped Union midfielder Fabrice-Jean Picault’s try off the right post in the third round.

“I was confident that if we got to penalties, we’d be all right,” Meara said. “I was pretty confident that I would make one big save. Fortunately, it worked out that way.”

New York seemed on its way to winning in regulation but the Union controlled the latter stages as the Red Bulls seemed to tire.

Jack Elliott sent the ball from inside his own half to Ronald Alberg just outside the Red Bulls penalty area. The Dutchman settled the ball, turned, took a touch and beat Meara inside the left post.

The Red Bulls led on a goal three minutes before halftime, capitalizing on its trademark high-field press. Union center back Joshua Yaro, harassed by Sean Davis, attempted a pass to Keegan Rosenberry, who had to lunge to keep the ball in play well inside his own defensive third.

But his lunge made him unable to control the ball and Kemar Lawrence swooped in. His pass to Felipe was followed by a quick succession of touches to Davis and Bradley Wright-Phillips before Kljestan tapped the last one in from the penalty spot.

New York began with a largely regular lineup, the most notable exception being Meara in goal for Luis Robles, but in a peculiar 3-3-3-1 formation. Aurelien Collin centered a three-man back line with Aaron Long on his right and Damien Perrinelle on his left.

Lawrence was moved forward into a second three-man midfield line with Tyler Adams in the middle and Sal Zizzo on the right. But that had to be further modified midway through the first half when Collin had to be replaced for what looked like a right thigh or hamstring injury.

Connor Lade entered, occupying the spot of Zizzo, who dropped back to take over the position of Long. Long then slid into the middle. Marsch further tinkered with his tactics by placing Kljestan wide right in the forward midfield line, Felipe in the middle and Davis on the left.

Conversely, Philadelphia used a standard 4-2-3-1 but only four players who started in its 1-0 win over D.C. United on Saturday.

Before the goal, New York had the majority of possession, but the Union generated the best chance in the 18th minute when Long and Collin collided just inside their own half both attempting to head a high ball.

They fell, allowing Union forward Picault to dribble all the way to the 18 before unleashing a shot that Meara blocked with his legs. Meara, however, wasn’t done. The rebound drifted into the middle of the penalty area, where Picault outleapt Collin to get a head on the ball. That then deflected off Perrinelle and Meara had to tip it over the bar.

“Ryan is the man of the match,” Perrinelle said. “He made some crazy saves. Not only in the PKs, but throughout the game.”

Picault had Philadelphia’s best chance of the second half as well, which saw the Union enjoying more of the ball and chances.

Picault found himself with time and space 25 yards out in the 62nd minute, when he unleashed a drive that Meara had to dive to tip wide.

C.J. Sapong nearly equalized in the 73rd, pivoting from 15 yards and putting a right-footed drive off the base of the left post.

Two minutes later, Sapong again wriggled free in the area only to put another right footer just wide of the left post.

With the game in extra time, second-half substitute Marcus Epps nearly gave Philadelphia the win when he drove a right-footed shot off the right post in the 11th minute.