A storm swept through PPL Park, halting play for an hour. Photo: Instagram @JayDClark
Neither lightning, nor rain, nor dust storm could keep the Philadelphia Union from emerging victorious in its 2014 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Quarterfinal match against the New England Revolution.
Sebastian Le Toux became the US Open Cup’s Modern Professional Era’s leading goalscorer with his 47th minute tally, adding to Conor Casey’s goal in the ninth minute to beat New England 2-0. With the win, which was delayed for an hour due to extreme weather in the second half, the Union advance to the Semifinals for the second time in three years.
The Union started out on the front foot, creating several dangerous chances in the opening minutes. Sheanon Williams took a free kick from the Union’s defensive half, hitting it over the top to Casey. The big forward beat his man, rounded New England keeper Brad Knighton, and slotted his shot into the right-side netting.
“I thought we started the game really well,” said interim Union manager Jim Curtin. “I thought we should have gone up two or three to zero at the start.”
The away side nearly equalized a minute later when Saer Sene beat Union goalie Zac MacMath, but Maurice Edu was on the line to clear the ball. The Revs got more and more into the game, but could not find an equalizer in the first half.
New England made two substitutions at the half hoping to change the game in its favor, but it would be one of those subs that indirectly led to the Union’s second goal. AJ Soares earned a yellow card just a minute into the half, only a few yards outside the left side of the penalty area. Le Toux stepped up to take the free kick and hit a ball that should have been a routine save for Knighton.
It turned out to be anything but as the ball went through Knighton’s hands and into the net. With the goal, Le Toux scored his 14th career US Open Cup goal, moving him past David Bulow, Johnny Menyongar, and Jaime Moreno on top of the Modern Pro Era’s goalscoring chart.
“That’s something special,” Curtin said about Le Toux’s accomplishment. “It’s a great honor for him to have. It just shows that he’s been on good teams that have advanced and gone on good runs in the competition.”
New England pressed forward, forcing MacMath into two saves, but the goalie couldn’t stop what came next. An impending storm blew dust and dirt in from the parking lots, shrouding the field. The referee put a halt to the game in the 61st minute just before the thunderstorm rolled in. The Union Twitter feed cheekily called it the “end of days.”
After the break, both teams created opportunities as New England continued on the attack. Despite more possession, however, the Revolution could not break through and find a goal.
With the victory, the Union move on to the US Open Cup Semifinals where they will play on the road against either FC Dallas or the Carolina RailHawks on August 12. Two years ago, they lost to Sporting Kansas City 2-0 in the Union’s only tournament loss at home to date.
Curtin said, “To have to go on the road, it makes it more challenging. We’re familiar with Dallas. We think we can go there and win a game … [Carolina] is a good team. They have a special home-field advantage. I expect them to give Dallas all they can handle.”
Goalscoring Leaders (Modern Professiona Era, 1995-present)
1. Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia Union, Seattle Sounders) – 14
2. David Bulow (Cape Cod Crusaders, Richmond Kickers) – 13
2. Johnny Menyongar (Minnesota Thunder, Rochester Rhinos) – 13
2. Jaime Moreno (DC United) – 13
5. Melvin Tarley (Minnesota Thunder) – 12
6. Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas, NY Red Bulls, Seattle Sounders) – 11
Michael Berton is a freelance soccer writer out of the Philadelphia area. He also works at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and you can follow him on Twitter @MichaelBerton.
HIGHLIGHT: LE TOUX’S RECORD-BREAKING GOAL
POST-GAME: JIM CURTIN
STORM VIDEO #1
STORM VIDEO #2
Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution
PPL Park – Chester, PA
PU: Conor Casey (Sheanon Williams) 9’
PU: Sebastian Le Toux (unassisted) 47’
PU: Zac MacMath; Fabinho, Sheanon Williams, Maurice Edu, Raymon Gaddis; Brian Carroll, Amobi Okugo, Sebastian Le Toux, Danny Cruz (Andrew Wenger—82’); Cristian Maidana (Fred—89’), Conor Casey (Aaron Wheeler—61’)
NER: Brad Knighton; Darrius Barnes, Jose Goncalves, Kevin Alston, Stephen McCarthy (A.J. Soars—45’); Scott Caldwell, Andy Dorman (Kelyn Rowe—61’), Lee Nguyen, Steve Neumann; Saer Sene (Diego Fagundez—45’), Teal Bunbury
NE: Stephen McCarthy (caution—16’)
NE: A.J. Soares (caution—46’)
PU: Amobi Okugo (caution—57’)
NE: Jose Goncalves (caution—71’)
NE: Lee Nguyen (caution—74’)
PU: Sheanon Williams (caution—75’)
PU: Aaron Wheeler (caution—76’)
NE: A.J. Soares (caution/ejection—90+)