Wright-Phillips Scores Pair, Red Bulls Rally to Reach U.S. Open Cup Final


Open Cup logoBradley Wright-Phillips scored twice, including the winner in extra time, as the New York Red Bulls rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat upstart two-year-old USL side and host FC Cincinnati, 3-2, Tuesday night and advance to the Lamar Hut U.S. Open Cup final for the first time since 2003.

Wright-Phillips scored in the 78th minute, three minutes after Gonzalo Verón tallied New York’s first, and then added his second in the 101st for his ninth goal in seven games in all competitions.

The victory sends the Red Bulls to Kansas City on Sept. 20 to play Sporting KC for a chance at a title it has never won.

“We knew that we were in for a tough game, we knew that with the way Cincinnati was going to play if we made one slip-up it could cost us the game,” Red Bulls Coach Jesse Marsch said. “We did in the first half, we made a mistake and they punished us and then we also knew they’re 10-0-3 when they score first. At home they’ve been very good, when they score first they’re unbeatable so in this tournament they hadn’t given up a goal so like we didn’t underestimate them, we knew were in for a tough match, we knew they were well-coached and well-organized and it was just about our ability to stay after the game and feel like we can overwhelm them over time so It wound up working that way and we took the hard route but I think our team showed some character in a big one.

The win was New York’s ninth in its last 11 matches in all competitions

The Red Bulls had more than twice the possession, three times the number of corner kicks and nearly three times as many shots as Cincinnati, yet rarely tested keeper Mitch Hildebrand until Verón scored in the 75th.

Derrick Etienne curled in a cross that skipped off the head of defender Harrison Delbridge’s head and on the forehead of Austin Berry, who knocked it down only for it to fall at the feet of Verón. Verón pounced with a sweeping left leg and easily beat Hildebrand from the six. It was the first goal in five Open Cup games that Hildebrand had allowed.

Wright-Phillips equalized later with a header off a cross from Tyler Adams.

“Brad is incredible,” Marsch said. “When you get to know these guys, you see what they’re really about so I watched BWP before I became coach and I was in awe of his talent, then when I became coach the very first conversation I had with him, I had never spoken with a superstar, a great player who was as humble, down to earth and as caring, as giving. You could see it from the first day of training I looked up at my staff and said BWP is our hardest worker so he’s been amazing and I think he’s been a beacon for this club. He’s another guy that never gets enough credit. He never gets mentioned really in the category that he deserves to be mentioned in.”

New York continued to dominate the game throughout the remainder of regulation and then into extra time. Wright-Phillips put New York ahead when Sacha Kljestan played the ball wide to Sal Zizzo, who crossed it into the middle, where the English striker headed it inside the right post.

Despite playing only three days after a 3-1 victory over Orlando, the Red Bulls started nearly the exact same first 11 except for Ryan Meara who replaced Luis Robles in goal. Meara had appeared in all of the Red Bulls previous Open Cup games this year, including a penalty kick victory over Philadelphia.

Cincinnati, which had won four of its five Open Cup games by scores of 1-0 and another on penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw – beating Columbus, Chicago and NASL side Miami in the three previous rounds, was without Djiby Fall, who had scored all four of its previous goals but was suspended for accumulated yellow cards.

With a loudly partisan crowd of 33,250 aiding it, Cincinnati went ahead in the 31st minute when Andrew Wiedeman played a ball into the area to Danni Konig, who chested it into the path of Corben Bone. Unmarked, Bone easily beat Meara from just to the left of the penalty spot.

The USL team doubled its lead on a corner in the 62nd when former MLS player Berry, who played for Chicago and Philadelphia, outleaped Michael Murillo at the edge of the six to beat Meara to his left.

The Red Bulls then took control but nearly gave up an equalizer in the 103rd minute when Meara failed to handle a ball into the box cleanly and let it get past him. Marco Dominguez-Ramirez appeared to be closing on an open goal but his shot was blocked by a reacting Adams.

This will be only the Red Bulls second trip to the Open Cup final, having lost to the Chicago Fire, 1-0, 14 years ago in its only other appearance.

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