Photo by Fast Philly Sports .com
After a good road performance for the Red Bulls down in Orlando during league play it was a quick transition to Open Cup play against the Philadelphia Union and the Red Bulls wanted some revenge after their first loss at home against this Union side. Last time these two sides met in May the Red Bulls had tons of chances and couldn't convert in the first half which led the Union to counter and put two past Luis Robles.
This match had the same feeling again as the Red Bulls poured on chance, after chance, after chance to get that opening goal and couldn't convert. Conor Casey would see himself sent off in the 40th minute as he fouled Connor Lade at the far side of the field and the Union went down to ten men the rest of the way. That seemed to be the way the Union wanted to play as they were without C.J. Sapong as he was sent off in their 5th round match against DC United.
Eric Ayuk converted on a counter in the 56th minute to give the Union the lead as the Red Bulls seemed to have taken their foot off the gas a bit, but while they were in a good position to recover it was Vincent Nogueira who beat the defenders down the left side and made a fantastic cross to Ayuk who wasn't marked.
But the Red Bulls at the death found some life inside five minutes of second half stoppage time as Lloyd Sam converted his second of the tournament and third all time as a member of the Red Bulls. It was a header cross from Mike Grella who found Sam inside the area & as he chested the ball down, it was a quick spin and shoot for the equalizer that finally beat John McCarthy.
After an extra thirty minutes of attacking soccer it was time for the penalty shootout and McCarthy was able to play some mind games on Bradley Wright-Phillips as he shot it off the crossbar & just stopped Sam's attempt to his left while the Union were able to put away four of their five attempts to advance to the Semi-Finals for the second consecutive season and they will await for either the four time Open Cup champions Chicago Fire or Orlando City.
Give goalkeeper John McCarthy a lot of credit once again for the Union in this Open Cup run of his as he made some solid saves in his positioning and while the Union are not having a great league season they are making a big run once again towards the US Open Cup Final. But for the Red Bulls who played their hearts out and showed that this competition does have plenty of meaning for them and for their manager in Jesse Marsch, I expect them to have another big run next season and the players were gutted after going 120 minutes and falling in the shootout while being up a man for about 90 minutes.
This is the second time the club has played in the Penalty shootout and lost after winning a shootout in Columbus against the Crew back in the 2000 Quarterfinals as Mike Petke's penalty won it after Mike Lapper skied his chance over the crossbar an Tim Howard was in goal. All time the Red Bulls are 4-4 in the Quarterfinals after this match, but if there are those who still think this club still doesn't care about the US Open Cup, after that heartfelt match it's time to say that they do care about it now.