After reaching the semifinals in 2012, and the finals in 2014, Philadelphia Union will look once again to join area teams Bethlehem Steel, Philadelphia German Americans, and the Ukrainian Nationals in the ranks of US Open Cup champions.
Below is a review of the Union’s history in the tournament since the team began play in MLS in 2010.
The Union’s first US Open Cup run was, like its history at the time, brief.
Only three days after losing 2–1 in their first match against New York at Red Bull Arena, the Union were back up I-95 on April 27, 2010 to face New York again for their first US Open Cup appearance in what was only the fifth competitive match in team history. According to the 2010 tournament format, six MLS teams automatically qualified based on their 2009 league record for the first round proper of the US Open Cup. Nine other MLS teams would participate in a play-in knockout tournament for the remaining two spots with expansion side Philadelphia as the number nine seed facing number eight seed New York.
The scoring chances came quickly for New York against a Union side that featured only five regular starters—and a makeshift back four that included Shea Salinas, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Danny Califf, and Toni Stahl—and Conor Chin made it 1–0 for the home team in the 16th minute. In the 41st minute, Chin tallied again and the score was 2–0 at the halftime whistle.
Union coach Peter Nowak rang in the changes to start the second half, bringing on Alejandro Moreno, Stefani Miglioranzi, and Cristian Arrieta to replace Roger Torres, Nick Zimmerman, and Stahl respectively. In the 64th minute, taking advantage of the four substitute rule, Sebastien Le Toux came on to replace Jack McInerney. Four minutes later, Le Toux scored off a cross from Arrieta to make it 2–1. The Union would fail to find an equalizer before the final whistle and so failed to advance to the next round of the play-in tournament. But the really bad news was that Le Toux had been stretchered of the field in the 82nd minute after being on the receiving end of a late tackle from Andrew Boyens (video).
All in all, it was a rather ugly performance from the Union, ugly enough that Nowak made the team run laps after the game. “I just won’t tolerate half (effort from players),” Nowak said, “and if you don’t enjoy playing on the field you will enjoy running, and if you don’t run during the game you could run after the game. That’s how it is and that is how it’s going to be.
Thankfully, fears that Le Toux had suffered an MCL strain proved unfounded and after being an unused sub in the games against LA on May 1 and Real Salt Lake on May 8, the Frenchman was back in the starting lineup against Dallas on May 15.
New York would advance past New England and Colorado to enter the Round of 16 where they lost 1–0 AET to Harrisburg City Islanders, who then lost 2–0 to DC United in the quarterfinals.
Of the 15 Union players who appeared in the Open Cup game against New York, only one is on the team’s current roster: Sebastien Le Toux.
The 2011 Cup tournament format again featured a series of play-in games for those MLS teams that had not automatically qualified and this time the Union would face DC United, 2010 Open Cup semifinalists, at the Maryland Soccerplex on April 6, 2011. It would be the first of two wild Open Cup games against DC.
2011 US Open Cup qualifying: DC United vs. Philadelphia Union
Backed by a large contingent of traveling support, the Union fielded a strong starting XI for the game with Michael Farfan and Keon Daniel being the only changes to the side that had suffered its first loss of the 2011 season away against Los Angeles three days before. Carlos Ruiz made it 1–0 for the Union after a Sheanon Williams throw-in in the 18th minute before Josh Wolff equalized at the half.
Play was back in forth in the second half with neither side able to find the decisive finish. Things got crazy in the 87th minute when Carlos Valdes received a second yellow card and the Union went into extra time down to ten men. In the 111th minute, Daniel Woolard put DC ahead. But the Union, while shorthanded, still had plenty of fight, and in the 118th minute, Brian Carroll equalized. In the celebrations that followed, Peter Nowak was ejected for what the referee deemed “excessive celebration.”
The match then went to penalty kicks. Le Toux sunk the Union’s first only for McInerney to miss with his turn. Bill Hamid then saved Roger Torres’ attempt. While Kyle Nakazawa netted with his attempt, DC United had converted each of theirs and the Union’s cup run ended at one game for the second year in a row.
Nowak said of the referee’s performance, “After he threw me out I had a couple of comments about his performance today—not abusive comments, but about his ability to ref the game.” In contrast to the previous year, he praised how the Union had played. “I’m proud of these boys because you can see that they put in a tremendous amount of work, and [play] after the red card is never easy.” He added, “I’m just sorry the penalties didn’t work out, because it was quite a good effort.”
Three days later, the Union defeated New York in league play of a Roger Torres goal, a goal he scored only moments after coming on as a sub in the 67th minute.
DC United would be eliminated from qualification for the 2011 US Open Cup when they were defeated 3-2 by New England at the Maryland SoccerPlex on April 26.
A change in the tournament format meant that all MLS teams would enter the US Open Cup in the third round of the tournament rather than some teams having to go through a play-in process. The Union were drawn to face USL PRO side Rochester Rhinos—who in 1999 became the last non-MLS team to win the tournament when they defeated Colorado Rapids, 2–0—on May 29, 2012 at PPL Park.
The Union were without Peter Nowak and Carlos Valdes for the third round match with both serving suspensions for being ejected from the Cup match against DC in 2011. John Hackworth was on the sidelines and Sheanon Williams at centerback, with Michael Farfan deputizing at right back. Amobi Okugo started at centerback for the first time in his professional career.
The makeshift defense held strong in a 3-0 win that began with a Josue Martinez goal in the 5th minute and ended with a Freddy Adu penalty kick goal in the 73rd minute. In between Martinez assisted an Adu goal from open play, four yellow cards were handed out, and play was halted for an hour when a truly ominous thunderstorm rolled through.
Most importantly, the Union were through to the fourth round, where they would have a rematch at Maryland SoccerPlex with DC United.
A year and two months after their first US Open Cup meeting, DC United again hosted the Union on June 5, 2012. DC United was on a four game winning streak in league play and looked early to exploit Raymon Gaddis, who was filling in at right back for Sheanon Williams. Surviving the initial onslaught unscathed, it was Brian Carroll who scored the first goal of the match in the 46th minute. Moments later, Josh Wolff equalized and the first half ended with the two sides level.
2012 US Open Cup: Nick DeLeon (18) of DC United pulls the ball away from Raymon Gaddis (28) of the Philadelphia Union during a US Soccer Open Cup match at the Maryland Soccerplex. Photo: Tony Quinn | DC United
The second half featured a memorable battle between Michael Farfan and Perry Kitchen but the key moment proved to be the substitution of Antoine Hoppenot for Michael Lahoud. Still level at the end of regulation time, Hoppenot scored the deciding goal off of a pass from Freddy Adu three minutes into extra time. The two sides continued to battle fiercely and Brandon MacDonald and Carlos Valdes each received second yellow cards before the final whistle.
This time, it was United coach Ben Olsen who had some thoughts to share about the officiating. Describing the match as a “circus,” Olsen said, “It just escalated. (The officials) can’t handle it. It’s just the way it is. It’s just the way it always is.”
Peter Nowak said, “We played a pretty good game. We created a lot of chances. I think we deserved to win.”
One week later, Nowak was fired.
The same evening that the Union battled DC United to a 2–1 extra time win, Harrisburg City Islanders fought to a 3–1 extra time win over New York Red Bulls. Upsets over MLS teams were nothing new for the Union affiliate, they had previously knocked out DC United in 2007, New England Revolution in 2009 and 2012, and New York Red Bulls in 2010. Affiliate club or not, the Union, now led by interim head coach John Hackworth, were right to be wary of Harrisburg when the two sides met at PPL Park on June 26, 2012. Only two weeks before, the Union had lost 3–2 to the City Islanders in their annual friendly.
The Union jumped to a quick 1–0 in the sixth minute when Freddy Adu converted a penalty kick after a handball in the box. Three minutes later, Jack McInerney made it 2–0 and a goal from Lionard Pajoy in the 29th minute was enough to make it 3–0 at the end of the half.
But Harrisburg was in the quarterfinals for good reason and goals from Brian Ombiji and former Union man Morgan Langley in the 51st and 54th minute quickly cut the Union’s lead to one goal. Pajoy scored his second goal of the night from a penalty kick in the 69th minute after Hoppenot was taken down in the box. Gabriel Gomez, who had come on for Michael Lahoud in the 69th minute, put the match to bed with a goal in the 81st minute. With the 5–2 victory, the Union were through to the semifinals where they would face Sporting Kansas City.
The drama of the July 11 US Open Cup semifinal at PPL Park was only heightened by the fact that the Union had defeated Kansas City 4–0 in league play just a few weeks before on June 23. Mindful of that loss, Kansas City looked to slow the match and sat deep in defense. The Union had the best chance of the half in the 26th minute but Pajoy was unable to shoot quickly after receiving a pass from Adu. Despite the Union finishing the half more strongly, the first 45 minutes were filled with what the PSP match report described as “doldrums of sloppy passing, overly physical play and aimless long balls.” The physical play resulted in 16 fouls and a yellow card to Gabriel Farfan over the first 45 minutes and the half finished scoreless with the Union managing just one shot to Sporting’s five.
The second half started with Kansas City probing the Union defense for an opening. Clearly on the back foot, the Union began conceding an alarming number of free kicks and earned two more yellow cards. In the 65th minute, Sporting finally made the Union pay when Graham Zusi picked out Jacob Peterson from a free kick. Peterson headed home to give the visitors the 1–0 lead.
2012 US Open Cup: Kei Kamara skies for a header in Sporting Kansas City’s 2-0 win over Philadelphia Union. Photo: Sporting KC
Desperate for an equalizer, the Union were forced to press numbers forward. But as the match became one of end-to-end play, the home team could not find the decisive breakthrough. Now in stoppage time, a clearing header from Zac MacMath fell to the feet of Zusi, who promptly delivered the ball from distance over a helpless MacMath and into the Union’s goal.
It was an ugly game that at its conclusion included 34 fouls and six yellow cards and was marked by inconsistent officiating and cynical (if effective) play from a rather unsporting Kansas City. John Hackworth said after the match, “They did what they had to do to come in and get the result, different styles, different philosophies. They put in a good game plan and got some help executing it. It’s completely baffling, that’s all I can say. I don’t know how a player or a coach can play their game and manage what they have to manage when that kind of stuff happens.”
For his part, Sporting coach Peter Vermes said, “We had a game plan, and I am proud of my guys for sticking to it for the entire game. I thought there were some moments there where we weren’t playing attractive, but I think we finished well.”
Hackworth acknowledged, officiating aside, the Union didn’t do enough to win the game. ‘”We didn’t take our chances, we possessed the ball an awful lot but didn’t create the opportunities. We missed the final pass a lot, we didn’t get the final chance we needed.” Cynical play, shameful officiating—in the end, it was the Union that failed to get the job done with only four shots, one on goal.
On Aug. 8, 2012, Sporting Kansas City won the 99th US Open Cup. It was another ugly match that was tied 1–1 after extra time and was finally decided on a controversial series of penalty kicks.
Following an acrimonious episode in which US Soccer ordered that the game should be played at PPL Park over the protests of Ocean City, who believed they had won the right to host the game after defeating Pittsburgh Riverhounds and the New York Red Bulls U-23s, the third round meeting between the Union and the Nor’easters of the PDL began with a scoreless first half before Jack McInerney made it 1-0 for the home team in the 49th minute. The half played out with a handful of chances before Emanuel Kollie equalized for Ocean City in the 91st minute. With the ball bouncing around the Union box, Ocean City first had a shot saved off the line before Kollie bundled home the rebound.
2013 US Open Cup: Philadelphia Union needed a stoppage time winner to beat the Ocean City Nor’easters (PDL). Photo: Philadelphia Union
Extra time looked certain as all 11 Ocean City players (and their bench) celebrated on the touch line. But the Union had other ideas.
After a run through the Ocean City defense by Antoine Hoppenot, Danny Cruz’s shot was saved. Sebastien Le Toux’s rebound effort was then blocked over the bar by the recovering Nor’easters defense. Brian Carroll met Le Toux’s driven ball from the ensuing 93rd minute corner kick at the near post, flicking it past a helpless Kevin Billings. The ball hit the back post and just barely crossed the goal line before being cleared by the Ocean City defense.
For the Union, it was a dramatic last gasp win. For Ocean City, it was a disappointing conclusion to a valiant effort on the field.
“Timely,” Carroll said when asked about his game-winning goal. “(Sebastian Le Toux) puts it in the right spot, and I just have to get my head on it. It finds the back post, and trickles its way in. I’m happy for the group; we’re advancing. We value this tournament, and we really want to put our best foot forward.”
Next up for the Union would be a road meeting with DC United in the tournament’s fourth round.
The Union’s past Open Cup meetings with DC had been feisty and epic. This time around, the Union rarely looked like they were rarely in the game.
2013 US Open Cup: D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario celebrates with John Thorrington and Taylor Kemp after scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Union. Photo: DC United
Dwayne De Rosario scored in the 24th minute to give the home team at the Maryland SoccerPlex the lead. The Union responded with long balls in an effort to generate its attack that . In the 75th minute, former Union man Lionard Pajoy picked Amobi Okugo’s pocket to set up De Rosario second goal of the game.
One minute later, Jack McInerney scored to make it 2-1. While the tempo of the game picked up, in the 85th minute, De Rosario completed his hat trick when he capitalized on Jeff Parke’s failure to control a strongly struck outlet pass from Zac MacMath, firing from distance to effectively end the game.
“We just came out really flat in the first half, the whole team,” Union striker Conor Casey said after the game. “There’s really no excuse for it.”
Union manager John Hackworth agreed with Casey’s assessment that the club came out flat.
“We got to know we’re not that good that we can do that,” Hackworth said.
“It’s not acceptable,” he added. “I don’t understand it. I don’t get it.”
DC would go on to win the 2013 US Open Cup, defeating Real Salt Lake 1-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium on Oct. 1, 2013.
The Open Cup meeting with the Union’s USL PRO affiliate marked Jim Curtin’s debut as interim head coach after the dismissal of John Hackworth only four days before. With Union loanees Pedro Ribeiro, Jimmy McLaughlin, Cristian Hernandez, and Richie Marquez all unavailable to the City Islanders, and injuries to Robbie Derschang and Clesio Bauque, it was a depleted Harrisburg side that took the field at PPL Park.
But it would be Harrisburg who would strike first when Jason Pelletier capitalized on goalkeeper Andre Blake’s failure to control Coady Andrew’s header from a free kick in the 38th minute.
While the Union dominated possession throughout the second half, they couldn’t find the final ball and rarely threatened Harrisburg’s goal. With the final minutes of time ticking away, Antoine Hoppenot found Sebastien Le Toux in the box. Le Toux squared to an advancing Maurice Edu, and the center back made no mistake from eight yards out to score the 89th minute equalizer.
In extra time, it was all Union, whose superior fitness was readily apparent over the depleted Harrisburg side. In the 110th minute, Andrew Wenger’s deflected shot wrong-footed Harrisburg goalkeeper Bryan Sylvestre to give the Union their first lead of the game. In the 117th minute, it was Wenger again. Sebastien Le Toux headed down Blakes long kick directly into the path of the charging Wenger, who advanced strongly into the box before launching a shot from seven yards that crashed off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net.
“We were a little rusty, sloppy, but my guys fought hard in the end,” Curtin said after the game. “They could have laid down but they didn’t, they kept pushing and got the goals.”
The Union’s meeting against the New York Cosmos would be their first against a NASL club and Curtin’s second time in charge of a meaningful game. It would also be the second time in the team’s 2014 Open Cup campaign that it would need extra time to secure a victory.
Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux avoids a tackle against the New York Cosmos. Photo: Kari Haffelfinger for TheCup.us
After a scoreless first chance in which both sides threatened but couldn’t finish, the Cosmos took the lead in the 56th minute when Alessandro Noselli flipped the ball over the onrushing Andre Blake.
The lead would be short-lived. One minute later, Andrew Wenger low cross was finished from six yards out by Sebastien Le Toux to make it 1-1. While the Union would have several chances to take the lead, finishing again proved elusive and the game went to extra time.
A shout for a Cosmos penalty kick in extra time was waved off, with New York head coach Carlos Llomosa remonstrations earning him an early trip to the locker room in the 105th minute.
In the 113th minute, Cosmos defender and Yardley-native Jimmy Ockford pulled down Maurice Edu in the box following a Sheanon Williams throw-in. Le Toux made no mistake to give the Union the 2-1 lead, scoring the 13th Open Cup goal of his career to put him level with David Bulow, Johnny Menyongar, and Jaime Moreno at the top of the US Open Cup goalscorers list for the modern pro era. Cosmos goalkeeper JimmyMaurer was given a yellow card for dissent before the kick was taken, and New York assistant coach, and former Union youth technical director, Alecko Eskandarian was sent to the locker room right after.
An altercation in the closing minutes of the game would see the Cosmos’ Ayoze and Ockford, as well as the Union’s Michael Lahoud also ejected, but Le Toux’s goal would be enough as the Union closed out the 2-1 win.
“I like this competition,” said Le Toux after the game. “It is fun. I was just talking about it with Andrew [Wenger], he already scored two, so he should score again and maybe become the best scorer of this competition. He came to me and said we are now tied, so it’s good competition between us too. We have continuity and are now three games away from the final, it would be great to get the trophy this year.”
July 8, 2014: Philadelphia Union 2-0 New England Revolution (Quarterfinals)
In the tournament quarterfinal meeting at PPL Park against a New England Revolution side that the Union had defeated on the road only two weeks before in league play, Conor Casey answered the concerns of fans who were growing weary of cup ties that needed extra time for a result when he scored in the ninth minute. While the Union would have numerous chances to add to their lead in the first half, the score remained at 1-0.
2014 US Open Cup Quarterfinals: A storm swept through PPL Park, halting play for an hour. Photo: Instagram @JayDClark
Two minutes after the start of the second half, Sebastien Le Toux gave the Union the 2-0 lead with a free kick that was badly handled by New England keeper, and former Union man, Brad Knighton. With the goal, Le Toux became the all-time US Open Cup goalscoring leader of the modern pro era of the tournament.
A storm swept through the area in the 61st minute, sending clouds of dust into PPL Park followed by heavy rain and lightning. When play resumed after a delay of more than an hour, New England continued to grow into the game as they had been doing before the interruption, but chances remained hard to come by.
New England’s frustration was evident when A.J. Soares would be given his second yellow card of the match in stoppage time after rugby tackling Andrew Wenger as the Union substitute looked to lead a counterattack down the left side.
“Crazy with the rain and everything,” interim head coach Jim Curtin said after the win. “But I thought our team had a good mentality, you know — coming off the rain delay, but I thought they also started off the game very well. I thought we should have been up 2- or 3-0 from the start. They were a little sluggish; took New England awhile to get going. Once they did, they’re a handful.
“Credit to my guys, though,” Curtin added. “I thought they all played well. If you go through man by man, I thought everyone had a pretty solid night.”
With the 2-0 win, the Union advanced to the tournament semifinals for the first time since 2012. This time, they would be on the road to Dallas.
August 12, 2014: FC Dallas 1-1 (3-4 APK) Philadelphia Union (Semifinals)
Three days after defeating Montreal at home in league play, the Union were in the stifling Texas heat to face a Dallas side that had defeated them in league play with a fluky goal on July 4, giving Jim Curtin his first loss as a head coach.
Following a back-and-forth first half, Amobi Okugo gave the Union the 1-0 lead when Vincent Nogueira collected the ball in the right channel and pushed it through to Sebastien Le Toux, who got a step on his man and cut the ball into the box from the endline. Okugo timed his run perfectly and first-timed a shot past Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez.
2014 US Open Cup Semifinals: Philadelphia’s Brian Brown against FC Dallas. Photo: FC Dallas
As the half wore on, Dallas continued to get behind the Union defense, forcing Zac MacMath to come out aggressively from his area. Throughout the game, MacMath had been successful in doing so. In the 81st minute, he was not. Running onto Blas Perez’s through ball, Fabian rounded the Union goalkeeper to finish into the empty net.
Throughout the 30 minutes of extra time, it began to feel as if penalty kicks would be the inevitable conclusion. And so it came to be. What was not inevitable was MacMath’s heroic performance.
With both sides level at two penalty kick goals apiece, MacMath parried Perez’s effort. With the penalty kick scoreline 4-3 to the Union’s advantage, MacMath then saved Victor Ulloa’s penalty kick shot to send the Union to the US Open Cup final for the first time in the short history of the franchise.
“It’s tough for any goalkeeper to go into a PK shootout,” MacMath said after the game. “You got the chance to win it for your team. You really just know you have to make one save hopefully and your team can do the rest. Thankfully I got two saves tonight.”
MacMath said of the win, “It’s awesome. It’s a feeling this club has never had before. I know our fans back home are really excited and we’re happy to bring it back for them.”
September 16, 2014: Philadelphia Union 1-3 Seattle Sounders (Final)
Three days after drawing 2-2 at home with New York Red Bulls in league play, the Union hosted three-time Cup champions Seattle Sounders in the 2014 final. The teams had met in Seattle in league play in May, the Union losing 2-1.
After an opening 30 minutes that saw a handful of chances from both sides, the Union took a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute when Maurice Edu headed in Cristian Maidana’s corner kick.
2014 US Open Cup: The Seattle Sounders defeated the Philadelphia Union in the Final at PPL Park, 3-1 in extra time. Photo: Seattle Sounders FC
Seattle equalized with a Chad Barrett header in the 47th minute. Obafemi Martins entered the match in the 60th minute and Seattle created several gilt edge chances but was unable to finish. With regulation time drawing to an end Pedro Ribeiro had a chance to put the home side ahead but could not settle for a clean shot and his effort was saved. In the 91st minute, Vincent Nogueira chested Maidana’s chipped pass and volleyed a shot that beat Seattle keeper Stefan Frei only to hit the post.
After six minutes of stoppage time, the game entered the first period of extra time. In the 101st minute, Clint Dempsey scored what would prove to be the gamewinner. Martins added another goal in the 114th minute and Seattle claimed its fourth Open Cup championship with the 3-1 win.
“I’ve never been proud of anything in my life that ended in a loss before,” Curtin said after the loss. “This was the first time.
“That was a man’s game tonight. You look at the tackles straight from the start, it looked like guys weren’t going to get up from them. Good hard, clean tackles soccer and two teams going at it. Good soccer, moments of maybe not so good soccer, but still, just a grind. At the end of the day Seattle, to their credit, pulled off more plays than us.”
The Union came out aggressively in their opening game of the 2015 US Open Cup, creating several scoring opportunities against USL side Rochester Rhinos in the first 30 minutes of the game at PPL Park. But the Rhinos found better possession and attacking runs after that to create work for Union goalkeeper John McCarthy.
After a scoreless first 45 minutes, the Union began the second half aggressively but, once again, Rochester grew into the game. In the last seconds of regulation time, the Rhinos nearly had the game winner when Jonny Mendoza chipped a slow to react McCarthy, only for Union defender Ray Gaddis to clear off the line.
2015 US Open Cup Round 4: John McCarthy and Ethan White of Philadelphia Union celebrate after winning the penalty kick shootout over the Rochester Rhinos. Photo: Greg Carroccio | Philadelphia Union
The Union had the better chances in the 30 minutes of extra time that followed but could not find the back of the net and the game went to penalty kicks. John McCarthy, who had played for Rochester the previous season in his first year as a professional, stopped Rochester’s second penalty kick attempt, only for the Union’s CJ Sapong to miss the next attempt. McCarthy then stopped Rochester’s next two attempts to ensure the Union would advance to the next round.
“I was just hoping to save a couple, I mean that’s all I really could hope for,” McCarthy said after the game. “Penalty kick shootouts are kind of just 50-50, if you go the right way, hopefully you save it, and if you don’t, most likely it’s going in. I saved a couple so it was great, a great team effort.”
“This competition though is about survive and advance and that’s what we did,” said Union head coach Jim Curtin.
The Union met DC United in Open Cup play for the first time since their fourth round loss in 2013 in what was their fourth game in 15 days. After 14 minutes of play, lightning forced a 50 minute delay. Soon after the resumption of play, the Union’s CJ Sapong was shown a questionable straight red card in the 24th minute. Three minutes later, Jairo Arrieta scored for DC.
Soon after the start of the second half, the Union’s Andrew Wenger almost equalized only for his shot to rebound off of both posts. The Union’s Eric Ayuk equalized in the 56th minute.
The momentum soon shifted back to DC, who created several scoring chances but could not convert. Then, in the 79th minute, Union left back Fabinho got behind DC’s defense and launched a a rocket of a shot that proved to be the game winner, although the ten-men Union had a scare when an 83rd minute effort from United’s Markus Halsti banged off the crossbar.
The Union’s Brian Carroll said after the game, “It’s a huge win. First of all it’s hard to get a comeback victory in this league, and to do it in a tournament like this in conditions like this, already being low on numbers, it was huge. It’s a testament to where we’ve gotten to as opposed to where we started and it leaves a good taste in your mouth going into this much needed break, and maybe it prepares us going in to the next one.”
After a great deal of uncertainty concerning the scheduling of the game, the Union traveled to Harrison, New Jersey to face New York Red Bulls for a 4 pm kickoff on a Tuesday.
Photo: @Sonsof Ben (Twitter)
New York was dominant from the start and their advantage only increased when a straight red card saw the Union’s Conor Casey sent off in the 40th minute.
It was much the same in the second half when, against the run of play, a beautiful breakout led by Vincent Nogueira finished with Eric Ayuk giving the Union an improbable lead.
The Union withstood an unrelenting onslaught as New York pushed for an equalizer. The Union nearly found a second goal in the 90th minute. Instead, New York found their equalizer in the 94th minute when Lloyd Sam finished from three yards out.
It was much the same in extra time, with the Union, led by goalkeeper John McCarthy, somehow withstanding the onslaught to push the game to penalty kicks.
New York’s Bradley Wright-Phillips missed New York’s first attempt. It was 2-1 in favor of the Union when McCarthy blocked Sam’s attempt and then recovered the ball before it could spin over the line.
New York’s Luis Robles saved the attempt from the Union’s Fred, and Sacha Kljestan sunk the Red Bull’s next attempt. But the effort from the left foot of the Fernando Aristeguieta was true to give the Union the win. The team, and the Union’s traveling support, went nuts.
“Most teams would quit and collapse but our guys kept fighting,” Jim Curtin said after the game. “It’s the Union’s biggest win in their history. The fan support was incredible. I thought our players showed a ton of heart, the heart of a lion. I couldn’t be more proud. They represented the badge very well. They represented the fans, our city, and left everything on the field.”
The Union were on the front foot for much of the first half against Chicago Fire, hitting the post twice in the 24th minute. The dominance continued in the second half but the Union could not find the back of the net.
Sebastien Le Toux scores the game-winning goal for the Philadelphia Union against the Chicago Fire in the 2015 US Open Cup Semifinals. Photo: Paul Rudderow/Philly Soccer Page
And then, in the 74th minute, Sebastien Le Toux found the 74th minute game winner when he picked up a loose ball outside of Chicago’s box firing a left footed shot past the outstretched hand of Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
“I kind of touched the ball through the legs of one defender which was very lucky again and I just took another touch and saw an opening,” Le Toux said of his goal. “It went to my left which is not my best foot but I took a crack at it and luckily it went in. The keeper was great all night. He saved lots of big shots from us but mine, which was not the prettiest one, went in. I’m going to take it and I’m just happy that we won tonight.”
It was Le Toux’s 15th Open Cup goal, making him the leading goalscorer in the modern era of the competition.
September 30, 2015: Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City (Final)
History will be made on Wednesday, September 30 at 7 pm when the Union host Sporting Kansas City in the 2015 final. Will the Union win the first piece of hardware in the club’s six seasons of existence? Will Kansas City win their third Open Cup championship?