Sainey Touray was a lonely figure up front for the Harrisburg City Islanders. With the New York Red Bulls possessing the ball for a majority of the 120-minute game in the Harrisburg half, Touray had to do the best he could with limited chances as the lone forward.
He did just that, scoring in the 13th minute and again in the 94th to propel the City Islanders into the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Lucky Mkosana added a third Harrisburg goal in the 118th minute. Connor Lade had New York’s lone goal in the 59th.
This was the fifth time in the last six tournaments that the City Islanders have eliminated an MLS team, as the 3rd Division pro team will reach the Quarterfinals for the fourth time. The Charleston Battery are the only lower division team in the country who has five MLS upsets in the last six years, but four of those upsets were as a 2nd Division club.
The Red Bulls started the game by possessing the ball in the Harrisburg half—something that would remain true throughout the game. New York found plenty of room down the flanks, leading to numerous crosses. However, it would be Harrisburg getting on the board first.
Brian Ombiji got the ball near the top of the 18-yard box. After some deft footwork, he crossed the ball to Touray, who headed the ball into the back of the net in the 13th minute.
The Red Bulls doubled down offensively after giving up the early goal. Harrisburg could barely get the ball across the midfield stripe. The City Islanders held firm defensively though. New York had several chances, but very few troubled the Harrisburg goalkeeper Nick Noble.
New York’s never-ending pressure finally led to a result in the 59th minute. A defensive miscue led to a wide-open shot for Lade. He easily slotted the ball past Noble, tying the game and seemingly giving the Red Bulls all the momentum.
After the goal, Dax McCarty began asserting his presence onto the game. His chip shot was saved by Noble in the 66th minute. He also hit the post in the 70th. Defensively, McCarty constantly applied pressure to Harrisburg players, barely giving them room to breathe. His strong effort did not lead to a New York game-winner, however.
With the score tied at 1-1, the game headed to extra time. The City Islanders are no strangers to extra time in the open cup, having beaten New England in last round on penalty kicks and coming into the match having never lost an Open Cup match that went into overtime. Using some more of that extra time magic, Jason Pelletier found himself with the ball in space in the middle of the field. He lobbed a pass over the top of the defense and right into the path of Touray, who slotted it past rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara and into the net.
After that unlikely goal, Harrisburg was determined to see the game out, and they would do that, but not without getting the benefit of a missed call. The Red Bulls were on the attack and sent a cross into the box and the ball was cleared away beyond the endline. New York players appealed for a penalty kick because they believed that Pelletier handled the ball while clearing the ball over the endline, but the referee waived play on. It appeared on video replay that Pelletier did touch the ball. The Red Bulls would continue to push for the equalizer as the home team would face a torrent of New York shots, including a dangerous free kick shot by McCarty and a header that hit of the crossbar. In the end, Harrisburg weathered the storm and even added another goal. On a corner in the 118th minute, Yann Ekra found Mkosana in the box. Mkosana scored his first career Open Cup goal to secure Harrisburg’s place in the quarterfinals.
Having won two-straight games against MLS competition at home, the City Islanders will face yet another MLS team, but this time on the road. On June 26, Harrisburg will travel to Philadelphia to take on the Union, who were 2-1 winners over DC United on Tuesday. Interestingly enough, the City Islanders will have a bit of a warm up before they take on the Union in the Quarterfinals. They have an exhibition match scheduled with their MLS affiliate in Harrisburg on June 12.
Harrisburg City Islanders 3:1 (AET) New York Red Bulls
Skyline Sports Complex – Harrisburg, Pa.
HCI: Sainey Touray (Ombiji) 13
NYRB: Connor Lade (unassisted) 59
HCI: Sainey Touray (Pelletier) 94
HCI: Lucky Mkosana (Ekra) 118
HCI: Bilal Duckett (caution-29)
HCI: Andrew Wekler (caution-38)
HCI: Jason Pelletier (caution-87)
NYRB: Jhonny Arteaga (caution-90+)
HCI: Stephan Basso (caution-90+)
HCI: Nick Noble (caution-115)
NYRB: Markus Holgersson (caution-120)
Harrisburg City Islanders: Nick Noble; Bilal Duckett, Andrew Marshall, Tom Brandt, Stephan Basso; Brian Ombiji (Tom Mellor-89), Andrew Welker (Yann Ekra-59), Morgan Langley (Lucky Mkosana-69), JT Noone, Jason Pelletier; Sainey Touray
New York Red Bulls: Ryan Meara; Wilman Conde, Markus Holgersson, Heath Pearce, Brandon Barklage (Jonathan Borrajo-115); Connor Lade, Mehdi Ballouchy, Dax McCarty (Stephen Keel-117), Jan Gunnar Solli; Jhonny Arteaga, Kenny Cooper