Could you script a more dramatic storyline than what unfolded at the Skyline Sports Complex Tuesday evening in Harrisburg, Penn.? Trailing by three with nine minutes remaining in overtime, the home club Harrisburg City Islanders rallied with three unanswered goals to force a penalty kick tiebreaker against Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution before prevailing from the spot, 4-3, with a saved attempt in the final round from US international Benny Feilhaber.
The win earns Harrisburg another home game in the tournament as they will host the New York Red Bulls next Tuesday at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pa. It will be a re-match of the 2010 Third Round game where the City Islanders needed extra time to pull off a 1-0 upset over the MLS side.
Heading to Harrisburg, the New England Revolution knew full well what the City Islanders were capable of. The third division side had already earned three wins in previous tournaments against MLS opposition, including a 2-1 overtime decision against them in 2009.
Even with the Revolution losing Diego Fagundez to a red card in the 36th minute, it looked like the game was going to be another toss-up as the final whistle sounded and things were still in a stalemate. It was not for a lack of chances as New England’s Kelyn Rowe banged one off the crossbar off goalkeeper Nick Noble’s fingertip just two minutes into the match. Harrisburg was also denied by the woodwork when Sainey Touray put his effort off the crossbar three minutes into the second half.
Cut to overtime, where the story really gets wild. Despite playing down a man, the Revolution got their first goal five minutes into the extra session from Lee Nguyen worked through the midfield before sending Rowe behind the defense for a toe-poke tally past the charging Noble.
That seemed to the breaking point as the City Islanders gave up two more in the next eight minutes. Nguyen converted a penalty after Feilhaber was taken down in the box; and Feilhaber himself added the third by beating a defender and ripping a shot into the top of the goal.
Game over. Well, not quite.
Brian Ombiji put away a Tom Mellor cross from the left flank for what seemed to be a consolation strike. Then with three minutes left, Touray made matters anxious yet again with Harrisburg’s second goal.
On essentially the final play of the match, local favorite JT Noone, claimed hero status with a 20-yard effort inside the left post to send the game to penalty kicks. For Noone, he joined a select group of players who have scored goals in four consecutive Open Cup tournaments. His first came in 2009 with the Ocean City Barons (now Ocean City Nor’easters), and the last three seasons, he has scored at least one goal for his hometown City Islanders.
Unfortunately, that hero status did not last long as New England back-up goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth saved Noone’s opening attempt of the shootout. He was partially relieved of guilt the following round when Revolution goalscorer Rowe sent his effort off the crossbar.
And with the final kick of the shootout, Feilhaber’s effort was stopped by Noble, who came into the match with four consecutive shutouts, including last week’s Second Round 2-0 win against Long Island Rough Riders (PDL).
Harrisburg City Islanders 3:3 (4:3 APK) New England Revolution
Skyline Sports Complex (Harrisburg, Pa.)
NE – Kelyn Rowe (Lee Nguyen) 95
NE – Lee Nguyen (penalty kick) 100
NE – Benny Feilhaber (Blake Brettschneider) 103
HAR – Brian Ombiji (Tom Mellor) 111
HAR – Sainey Touray (unassisted) 117
HAR – JT Noone (unassisted) 120
HAR – Joseph Noone (save)
NE – Lee Nguyen (goal)
HAR – Stephen Basso (goal)
NE – Kelyn Rowe (miss – crossbar)
HAR – Bilal Duckett (goal)
NE – Mike Roach (goal)
HAR – Drew Yates (goal)
NE – Blake Brettschneider (goal)
HAR – Andrew Marshall (goal)
NE – Benny Feilhaber (save)
New England Revolution: Bobby Shuttleworth (GK), Tyler Polak, John Lozano, Darrius Barnes ©, Alec Purdie, Mike Roach, Fernando Cardenas (Benny Feilhaber 79), Kelyn Rowe, Jeremiah White (Lee Nguyen 63), Diego Fagundez, Jose Moreno (Blake Brettschneider 70) Substitutes Not Used: Tim Murray, Stephen McCarthy
Harrisburg City Islanders: Nicholas Noble (GK), Stephen Basso, Tom Brandt (Tom Mellor 100), Andrew Marshall, Bilal Duckett, Jason Pelletier, Andrew Welker (Drew Yates 64), Joseph Noone, Morgan Langley (Garret Pettis 76), Brian Ombiji, Sainey Touray Substitutes Not Used: Dustin Bixler, Bryan Holt, Adrian LeRoy, Colin Zizzi
NE STATS: Shots 10, Corner Kicks 5, Saves 6, Fouls 12 Offsides 5
HAR STATS: Shots 17, Corner Kicks 6, Saves 2, Fouls 20, Offsides 4
HAR – Sainey Touray (caution) 11
NE – Jeremiah White (caution) 17
NE – Diego Fagundez (ejection) 36
HAR – Jason Pelletier (caution) 45
HAR – Brian Ombiji (caution 89)
Referee: Ayodeji Obisesan
Assistant Referees: Albert Calise, Eric Weisbrod
Fourth Official: Jaroslaw Werel
Weather: Rainy and 80 degrees