Union advance to Quarterfinal of US Open Cup on 2-1 win vs Red Bulls


On a rare Saturday night US Open Cup match, the Philadelphia Union outclassed and outlasted New York Red Bulls. The 2-1 victory helped the Union advance to the Quarterfinals of the US Open Cup! Goals from Haris Medunjanin and Cory Burke secured the victory for Philadelphia.

A regular occurrence

On a hot night in Chester PA, the Union and Red Bulls made some US Open Cup history. The US Open Cup format loves regional games, so it almost seemed inevitable that this matchup would happen eventually. This year the forced rivalry took place in the round of 16. The match itself started off like the previous three Open Cup ties. Both teams had trouble finding a rhythm.

A sloppy first half

Sloppy play from both sides was the take away from this match. It had many Union and Red Bull fans thinking that this one could go 120 minutes and to penalties. The Red Bulls looked like a shell of themselves, especially up front having Bradley Wright-Phillips, Daniel Royer and Florian Valot on the bench. There was visible frustration from Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch. He verbalized his frustrations before this match about how he didn’t like how the Union were able to have a week of rest while his team had only three days. Even so, the demonstrative Red Bull manager tried to have his side press high to stifle the Union’s build up play.

The Union did well to break the press, but the quality in the final third was lacking. Passes on the ground fell short of their targets; balls played in the air sailed too far. The Union dominated the possession in the first half, and put out Red Bull counter attacks. All in all, the first half showed little class. Players clumped towards the ball, and the middle of the field; both teams spacing was suspect, and neither team were able to exploit the others weak spots.

That all changed in the second half!

The Union’s strong start to the second half

As the second half kicked off, the Union looked like a different team, while the Red Bull were showing the same problems they had in the first half. Philadelphia began getting their central midfielder’s on the ball looking to create chances.  That coupled with smart runs by their attackers, created space to operate in the middle of the field. Haris Medunjanin took full advantage of the space he was given!

Seven minutes into the second half, the Bosnian found himself on the ball just outside the 18 yard box. A Red bull defender approached him; Haris made him look silly and moved into the open space on his left. Looking at his options, he saw Red Bulls defenders scrambling to cut off passing lanes, so Medunjanin ripped a shot. The left-footed shot curled into the box, deflecting off a Red Bull defender, and flying into the top right corner of the net. The Union found an early second half lead. It was clear that Philadelphia wasn’t satisfied with just one goal.

After Medunjanin’s goal, the Union were on the front foot again. They continued to batter the Red Bulls, pinning them deep in their own half. Nine minutes after the Union found their first they got their second. Some smart passing from Medunjanin and Bedoya took the attention of the Red Bulls defenders. This allowed Cory Burke to play off the shoulder of the last defender. Bedoya, in a great position, played a through ball straight to a streaking Burke who was in on goal. The Jamaican forward took a great first touch to set up his shot. He slipped a shot past the onrushing Luis Robles to give the Union a two goal lead.

The Red Bulls starting attackers come on

Just before the Union got their second the Red Bulls sensed their desperation. They needed to get better attacking chances which led to Jesse Marsch subbing in his attackers. They brought on Wright-Phillips and Royer on in the 60th minute, and Valot in the 73rd minute. These changes allowed Red Bulls to have more quality in the attacking third.

This quality showed itself when the Red Bulls were able to get one goal back. Kaku slipped a ball in behind the Union’s young center back Mark McKenzie and Bradley Wright-Phillips was in on goal. He put his chance away, creating a hectic last 17 minutes of play.

The Union brought on Warren Creavalle to help muddle up the midfield, and stifle Red Bull chances. As the game was winding down the Union sat deep. They closed down New York’s passing lanes, and hit them on the counter to keep the ball away from Andre Blake. Blake had one late moment of brilliance, where he had to dive behind him to stop a Kaku chance. After that ave by Dre, the Red Bulls were all but finished. Philadelphia held on winning the match 2-1!

Union outclass and outlast Red Bulls

As Adam Cann points out, the Union’s victory was in large part due to the play of Haris Medunjanin. His ability to break down the Red Bulls high press was great. His midfield counter part Alejandro Bedoya helped give him a quick outlet past the press, so to did the young back line. Haris would have to pass backwards at times making the Red Bull attackers press higher; some smart passing by the defenders helped beat the press and start attacks.

While this was not a 90 minute game against the first choice team of the Red Bulls, the Union were able to outclass and outlast the Red Bulls in this grueling knockout tournament!

The Union advance now to the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup. They will take on the winner of Wednesday nights Round of 16 match between DC United and Orlando City. Based on the Round of 16 draw results the Union will host the quarterfinal against either DC or Orlando. That game will take place Wednesday, July 18th!

Highlights – Union advance!

Box Score

Philadelphia Union Starting XI:
Andre Blake; Keegan Rosenberry, Mark McKenzie, Auston Trusty, Raymon Gaddis; Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya; Ilsinho (Marcus Epps 64’), Borek Dockal (Warren Creavalle 83’), Fafa Picault; Cory Burke

Substitutes not used: John McCarthy; Jack Elliott, Fabinho, David Accam, Jay Simpson

New York Red Bulls Starting XI:
Luis Robles; Connor Lade, Hassan Ndam (Florian Valot 73’), Aurelien Collin, Tim Parker, Kemar Lawrence; Tyler Adams; Derrick Etienne (Daniel Royer 61’), Kaku, Marc Rzatkowski; Carlos Rivas (Bradley Wright-Phillips 60’)

Substitutes not used: Evan Louro; Aaron Long, Sean Davis, Alex Muyl


PHI – Haris Medunjanin (Alejandro Bedoya) 52’
PHI – Cory Burke (Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin) 61’
NYRB – Bradley Wright-Phillips (Kaku) 78’



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Peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports