Chris Pontius scored two goals for the Philadelphia Union, his second and third of his US Open Cup career. Photo: Bob Larson
The two halves of the Fifth Round Lamar Hunt US Open Cup game between the Philadelphia Union and the New York Red Bulls could not have been any different. But after getting dominated in the first half, the Union came from behind to earn a 2-1 victory.
The visiting Red Bulls outshot their MLS counterparts 13-1 in a first half display that was demoralizing for the home supporters. Capitalizing on numerous Union mistakes, New York’s high-pressure also stifled most Philadelphia attacks. The home side came out with a new energy in the second half, however, two goals in the span of five minutes sent the Union into the Quarterfinals.
“We whipped their butts in the first half,” New York coach Jesse Marsch said. “They came out and whipped our butts in the second half.”
New York, which was looking for revenge for a Quarterfinal loss to the Union last year, started the game on fire. Only some heroic goalkeeping from Andre Blake kept the Red Bulls off the scoresheet early on.
In the 17th minute, it was one mistake too many however. Union defender Richie Marquez couldn’t clear a ball into the box, and Mike Grella capitalized with an easy shot to the bottom left corner of the net.
It did not get any better for the two-time Open Cup runners-up for the remainder of the half. The Red Bulls ended with a 13-1 shots advantage and a 6-1 shots on goal advantage. The Union could consider themselves lucky to only be down by one goal.
Union coach Jim Curtain said, “It was a tale of two halves. That wasn’t us in the first half. Maybe [Fabinho] and [Joshua] Yaro were good, but the rest of the guys — it wasn’t them.”
The Union were a completely different team to start the second half. And it was the connection between two players who had forgettable first halves that led to both Philadelphia goals.
In the 55th minute, Ilsinho was played into space down the right side of the field. He picked out Chris Pontius making a diagonal run into the box, and Pontius made no mistake, scoring a goal to Ryan Meara’s left.
Just five minutes later, the two combined again. Ilsinho chipped a cross to Pontius, who hit it first-time into the back of the net.
With a 2-1 lead, Philadelphia made defensive substitutions and aimed to see out the game. As time went on, instead of the players getting testy in the heat of the moment, it was the coaches.
In second half added time, a ball was played out of bounds. The ball made its way back onto the field. Regardless of whether Union assistant coach Mike Sorber meant to kick it back, or if it bounced off him, he was ejected from the game.
A few minutes later, angry with the officiating, Marsch was ejected. Before leaving the field, he spiked two balls at the Union sideline.
“I had to try to induce change in the ref somehow. They were basically calling every foul for the Union,” Marsch said.
The Red Bulls had a few more flurries in them, but when the whistle sounded, the Union came out 2-1 victors. Philadelphia extends its Open Cup unbeaten streak to seven games, a mark that only nine teams in the Modern Era have ever reached.
FULL MATCH REPLAY
New York Red Bulls
17' · Mike Grella (unassisted)
55' · Chris Pontius (Ilsinho)  60' · Chris Pontius (Ilsinho)
REF: AR: AR: 4th:
New York Red Bulls
Communications and Development Associate at the Public Interest Law Center. Based in the Philadelphia area, has been helping out with TheCup.us since 2012. Graduated with a degree in journalism from Penn State University.