In a dramatic finish, the Philadelphia Union were nearly forced into overtime when the amateur PDL Ocean City Nor’easters scored in the 90th minute, but a stoppage time winner from Brian Carroll gave the MLS club the 2-1 win in the Third Round and a showdown with DC United in the Fourth Round.
Carroll’s goal came just minutes after Ocean City scored a 90th-minute equalizer on a scrum in front of the goal. Emmanuel Kollie tapped a loose ball into the net to keep the Nor’easters’ dreams of a magical Open Cup run alive just before Carroll’s winner.
“Congratulations to Ocean City. They played a really good game tonight,” Union coach John Hackworth said. “We showed a lot of character, especially after giving up a very late goal, to get one back right away.”
There was some controversy surrounding which team got to host this match-up, as Ocean City won the coin toss to host the game. However, according to General Manager Neil Halloway, the Nor’easters did not receive a copy of the 2013 tournament rules prior to the venue declaration deadline, so they were unaware their home, Carey Stadium, was three yards shy of the Open Cup standard width of 68 yards. The club submitted their venue declaration form with the width listed as 65 yards, and they won the hosting coin flip for the first two rounds. When the team received the 2013 handbook on May 7, the day the Preliminary Round began, Holloway realized that his field was not up to standard and moved quickly to widen the field to 71 yards.
They were awarded home games for Rounds 1 and 2 because, as Holloway learned from a USSF official, the federation waived their minimum standards for those two games. However, after Ocean City won the hosting coin flip for Round 3, USSF chose – still believing the width was 65 yards – not to waive the minimum standards, thus giving the home game to Philadelphia.
“It would have been great for the shore area to host a game, but at the same time it was a great opportunity for the guys to play in an MLS stadium—an opportunity that may not come again for some of them,” Ocean City coach Tim Oswald said.
The PDL side began the game defensively and the Union could not to cope. Philadelphia got the ball into the final third numerous times, but could not put any solid efforts on net. Keon Daniel had the best chance of the first half, hitting a half-volley that tested Nor’easters keeper Brian Billings. For 45 minutes, the Nor’easters kept their MLS opponents frustrated.
Jack McInerney changed things in the second half, doing what he does best—scoring goals. Sebastian Le Toux ran to the end line and sent a bouncing ball across the face of net. Billings could not smother it, leaving McInerney to gather and scored on an open net in the 49th minute.
Down 1-0, Ocean City played more offensively but the Union controlled most of the second half. It came as a surprise to the sparse crowd when Philadelphia could not clear the ball in the 90th minute. Kollie got the ball within the 6-yard box, where he knocked in the dramatic equalizer.
In the game’s final moments, Le Toux sent a cross into the Ocean City penalty area. Carroll flicked it on with the ball barely crossing the line to give the Union a last-second victory.
The Union, who made it to the Semifinals last year, advance to Round 4, where they will take on DC United on June 12. Philadelphia and DC played last year in the fourth round, with the Union emerging in overtime.
“These games are tough,” Hackworth said. “The Open Cup is always this way. You’re going to have battles. It’s the March Madness of the US soccer world. Our focus is on trying…to win the US Open Cup.”
Philadelphia Union : Ocean City Nor’easters
PPL Park—Chester, Pa.
PHI: Jack McInerney (Sebastian Le Toux) 49
OC: Emmanuel Kollie (unassisted) 90
PHI: Brian Carroll (Le Toux) 90+
Philadelphia Union: Zac MacMath; Raymon Gaddis, Amobi Okugo, Jeff Parke, Sheanon Williams; Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel, Leo Fernandes (Michael Farfan, 90); Jack McInerney (Antoine Hoppenot, 81), Conor Casey (Danny Cruz, 65), Sebastian Le Toux
Ocean City Nor’easters: Brian Billings; Kevin Curran, Tapiwa Machingauta, Tyler Hilliard, Shawn McLaws; Nick Perea, Ken Tribbet, Timothy Mulgrew (Emmanuel Kollie, 66); Frank Tweneboa (JP Correa, 87), Markhus Lacroix, Anthony Asante (Zoncher Dennis, 69)