After a thrilling contest and more chaotic conditions at PPL Park, the Union came from behind to triumph over D.C United and sail into the Quarter finals of the U.S Open Cup. Despite being short handed after a controversial red card, the Union fought bravely to come back and win over United. The team will face either NY Red Bulls or NY Cosmos in the next round.
The opening fifteen minutes consisted of sheer dominance from the Union. With fantastic ball movement and some creative crosses being played, it looked almost certain the team would find an early goal..but for the second time in as many games at PPL Park, the weather was out to stop them. The game was delayed for 45 minutes, sending both teams back to their locker rooms and ending what momentum the Union had established early on.
When the teams rejoined, play started to become a tad scrappy and just ten minutes after the game got back underway, the Union lost a man. Star striker CJ Sapong was handed a straight red whilst jumping up for a ball and catching Apare with his elbow. The team protested, the coaching staff looked furious and the fans booed violently, but it wasn’t going to change the fact that the Union would now go the remainder of the game without their target man.
Just moments later, the four time Open Cup winners made the most of the short handed Union with an Arrieta goal to send United to a 0-1 lead. Aguilar made his way down the wing and as the ball trailed past Edu and his man, it left Arrieta wide open to pot home the opening goal.
Andrew Wenger had a great chance to find rookie Ayuk towards the end of the first half but Birnbaum was able to prevent a goal from emerging. The two then switched roles as Wenger missed a sitter in front of an empty net following an Ayuk strike.
More chances came and went for the Union as the second half got underway including a ball clipping off of the woodwork on both sides of the net, but in the 56th minute the Union tied the game up. Midfield maestro Maidana sent a looping through ball to find Sheanon Williams who took a touch before finding the young Cameroonian Eric Ayuk who smashed home his second goal in as many games.
Just as D.C started to snatch back momentum, the Union took it right back in what was a justice being served scenario. After coming so close recently, Fabinho ran past Jalen Robinson and launched a missile past the United keeper to give the Union a 2-1 lead. A lead they would hold onto for the remainder of the game.
D.C did come close, finding the crossbar late on but the Union sat tight and passed it very carefully to make sure they retain possession, and with it a pass to the Quarter finals. The Sons of Ben may have been soaked through, but they left delighted as their side once again progress into the final stages of the tournament to face either the Cosmos or the Red Bulls.
The game symbolised everything that makes cup football so magical. Anyone can beat anyone and the game isn’t over until the final whistle blows. The Union never gave up, they never stopped fighting despite going most of the game without their prime goal scorer. That alone showcases the spirit of Philadelphia and just what makes this city so remarkable. The team have a bit of a break before their next fixture but the same can’t be said for our coverage, watch out for some exclusive interviews with some of the Union’s top stars!
Liam is a 24-year old sports journalist from the UK and founder of the Philly Sports Network. In just five years he turned a hobby into one of the fastest-growing Philadelphia sports sites in the world, amassing 7,000,000 views and writing over 3,000 articles. Drawing attention from the likes of CSN, NJ.Com and Bleacher Report in the process, Liam is set on changing the way Philadelphia sports teams are reported on forever.
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