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Match Report: Union 3-0 Rochester

Photo: Earl Gardner

Even a lengthy delay due to inclement weather could not dampen the Union’s attacking spirits as Philadelphia Union dominated in a 3-0 win in the U.S. Open Cup over the USL’s Rochester Rhinos.

After a Rochester mistake gifted Josue Martinez the opener five minutes into the match, Freddy Adu sealed the tie with a brace, tallying with his head in the 29th minute before converting a second half penalty to see off the subpar Rhinos.

Going into the international break, the Union will take confidence from the outpouring of goal-scoring opportunities, which stands in stark contrast to their recent slate of league matches, where they are winless in their last five.

First Half

With captain Carlos Valdes suspended for the match, Amobi Okugo partnered with Sheanon Williams in the center of the Union back line, with Michael and Gabriel Farfan at right and left back respectively. In the midfield, Freddy Adu and Brian Carroll, who wore the captain’s armband on the night, were joined by Keon Daniel and Michael Lahoud. Martinez joined Lionard Pajoy up top.

What appeared to be a traditional 4-4-2 on paper was anything but in practice. Both Farfan brothers pressed high up the pitch, passing Carroll and Lahoud on most occasions as they looked to probe and challenge Rochester’s outside backs at every opportunity.

The early pressure quickly paid dividends for the Union as they snatched the lead in fifth minute. Patient build-up play earned the Union a corner after Gabe Farfan played in Keon Daniel. From the set piece, Josue Martinez pounced on a poor attempted clearance and poked the ball inside of the far post.

With their tails up following the goal, the Union again threatened. Michael Farfan, a constant menace to the Rhinos defense, skipped past Jack Traynor. Cutting his pass back against the grain, Farfan found an onrushing Adu, who blazed his effort narrowly wide of Kristian Nicht’s post.

In the 22nd minute, with the Union firmly in command, play was suspended as bolts of lightning filled the sky. Both sides headed to the locker room to see out the storm.

When the players reemerged from the tunnel and the match resumed, the Union were back on the front foot. Martinez was the architect, as he was for much of the night. He teed up Adu, who saw his shot tipped wide. Moments later, Michael Farfan could not get all of his half-volley from a corner kick.

In the 29th minute, the Union doubled their advantage when Martinez shook off Quavas Kirk, beat him to the endline and hooked his cross into the box. Adu attacked the swerving ball, powering his header past Nicht and putting the Union firmly in command of the match.

With the Union attack coming in waves, the chances came fast and furious. There were a few nervous moments in the defensive third as Williams and Okugo held down the fort nearly by their lonesome, but the Union took a comfortable two-goal lead into the locker room at the half.

Second Half

After carrying their momentum through the rain delay, the halftime break didn’t derail the Union’s focus. While the slippery pitch caused some early issues for the Union in possession, they were quickly back in the ascendancy.

The sides exchanged yellow cards as the wet turf, and Rochester’s increasing frustration ratcheted up the level of physicality. After Jack Traynor went in the book for hauling Adu down from behind, Michael Lahoud flew into a crunching tackle of his own in the 56th minute.

Martinez’s scintillating form continued for the Union, as he nearly set the table for the Union’s third on two occasions. With plenty of space on the right flank, he found Daniel, who in turn squared to Adu. Adu then blasted his shot just over the crossbar.

In the 63rd minute, Martinez cut across the top of the box, quickly returning Adu’s pass, though the shot again flew to the wrong side of the crossbar.

With the Union failing to convert on their chances, the Rhinos nearly cut the lead in half. A slip from Okugo allowed the Rhinos to cut in from the right wing. Williams scrambled to cover, and a relieved Konopka looked on as the shot was skewed badly past his far post.

It proved a wake up call for the Union. They charged forward with purpose and were finally able to kill off the match in the 73rd minute. Michael Farfan, the Union’s most dangerous one on one player all night, swapped wings when his brother came off with a knock. Rhinos right back Quavas Kirk was ill prepared to cope with Farfan’s threat. Having been thoroughly beaten in the box, Kirk clumsily dragged down the Union attacker, giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot.

Freddy Adu stepped up and dispatched the penalty, taking the wind out of Rochester’s sails.

Over the final ten minutes, the Union looked to pad their statistics, but for the quick reflexes of Nicht in goal and some help from his crossbar kept them at bay.

First Martinez raced away, beating two players before stinging Nicht’s fingertips with a drive Nicht barely pushed over the bar. Next it was Pajoy’s turn as he latched onto Keon Daniel’s inswinging service, drilling his header off the bar before Brian Carroll dragged his follow up just wide of the post.

It became a shooting gallery. Kai Herdling’s attempted curler deflected into the path of Martinez, whose blast was parried by Nicht but fell back to the rampant Costa Rican international. Martinez’s second effort roll inches wide of the near post, as the Union finished off the match with the same energy with which they had begun.

The victory marks the Union’s first triumph in the US Open Cup and advances them to the fourth round of play where they will go on the road to face DC United on Tuesday, June 5.

Philadelphia Union

Chris Konopka; Michael Farfan, Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Gabriel Farfan (Kai Herdling ’70); Michael Lahoud, Brian Carroll, Freddy Adu (Jimmy McLaughlin ’80), Keon Daniel; Lionard Pajoy, Josue Martinez (Chandler Hoffman ’90)

Unused Substitutes: Chase Harrison, Antoine Hoppenot, Zach Pfeffer, Greg Jordan

Rochester Rhinos

Kristian Nicht; Jack Traynor, George Kyriazis, Troy Roberts, Quavas Kirk (Michael Tanke ’76); Drew Cost (Michael Zaher ’59), Tyler Rosenlund, Daniel Earls, Jimmy Banks; Thomas McManus, Graciano Brito (Andrew Hoxie ’59)

Unused Substitutes: Brandon Miller, Conor Chinn, Masaki Hemmi, Kyle Manscuk

Scoring Summary

5 – PHI: Martinez (unassisted)

29 – PHI: Adu (Martinez)

73 – PHI: Adu (penalty)

Discipline Summary

40 – ROC: Earls (Caution)

52 – ROC: Traynor (Caution)

56 – PHI: Lahoud (Caution)

90 – Roc: Rosenlund (Caution)


  1. That is a great photo of PPL Park.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      And it really looked like that just before the storm. Real dark overhead but bright sky over the Delaware.

  2. Thought this was a great game, liked watching the live stream despite the lack of commentary, Maybe you’ll come out with grades but here are a few from me: thought Josue was the best player on the field by far driving our entire offense; thought Pajoy, despite being on the end of a few crosses, was slow; Freddy had a little more patience today but perhaps that was just more space from Rochester, granted nice header and PK but I’m not sold yet; Marfan was nasty, and patient despite playing outside back; Neon Keon looked sharp and effective and was pressing more than usual, Lahoud isn’t quite useless but he also isn’t quite good enough to ever be on the field, heavy touches, emotional tackles, not a professional; Carroll despite all the chances displayed why he is a dinosaur of the MLS, I still think he can help us but there are better options in Okugo and Gomez; Thought Sheanon and Amobi locked it down but don’t want to see either permanently in the center back spot.

    Lastly, we should release Lahoud and pick up that #29 with the orange boots (Jimmy Banks perhaps? didn’t see the name)He was threatening one on one and sending in dangerous balls all night, including the one that assisted the goal called back for offsides.

      • Considering the number of players who have left Toronto and done well: LaBrocca, Cronin, Santos, etc. I would assume Banks could be useful. He was touted as a 2nd round pick coming out of college but slid it seemed bc he had offers from Scandenavia, yet those didn’t seem to pan out.

      • Dan Walsh says:

        Toronto’s made plenty of mistakes over the years. 😉

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Definitely agree that Martinez was the best player out there and that Pajoy looked slow. Also, Mahoud seems to be a liability as frequently as he is an asset. I can’t agree with not playing Carroll. With all the turmoil on defense we need someone reliable like Brian to help out.
      One other thing I noticed was that we avoid counterattacks like the plague. There was one time Adu and Martinez looked like they were headed in on a 2 on 1 from midfield when Adu just stopped and tried to dazzle with his skills rather than passing to the wide open Martinez.

    • Despite the lack of commentary?

      The lack of Rigby was the absolute best part of the entire stream!

  3. Philly Cheese says:

    All right……who stole Union players and replaced them last night. Didn’t even recognize crisp passes and understanding of positioning of players who showed up to play with energy and enthusiasm. This time, other connected performances could cover the seldom involved Pajoy.
    I am going to,give the credit to Coach Hackworth guiding and energizing the team from the bench, without “what’s his name” confusing and discouraging the players on the pitch.

  4. N o w a k s u c k s says:

    Ok I was at the game as well.. RR was god aweful so to give the union to much credit may be misplaced.. Union Keeper CK had to make a great save on a header at 1-0.. Why in this game when it was 2-0 do we not play our younger players in more minutes?? There was less than 1500 people at game not sure what the announced number was..but place was emty. fan shop was closed and only a few of the food plaaces was open..

    • Andy Muenz says:

      According to the US Open Cup website, attendance was over 4,000. Over in Harrisburg (for what sounded like a great final 30 minutes) they had less than 500.

  5. msg24365 says:

    A couple random thoughts, since I only watched on the stream:

    1. As bad a Rochester was, Pajoy still looked slow and not all that great. Martinez looked much better, making good, fast runs (you know, the kind of things LeToux scored a bunch of goals doing).

    2. Does Nowak have a daughter? Did Amobi sleep with her or something? How we cannot get him on the field regularly continues to baffle me. The #3 pick in the 2010 SuperDraft; One of the highest paid players on the team; and we are giving tons of PT to a guy who could no get on the field for Chivas — FOR CHIVAS! Christ, try Amobi at CB (more of a stopper-type role)and move Williams back to the flank.

    3. The Union must have lost money on this game — the cost to open and run the stadium has to have been more than they got at the gate. For me, my “discounted” price would have been $25 (Sec. 127). No way would I pay that to see this level of opponent, mid-week, following a holiday. IMO, epic fail on judging a proper price point to get people to the game.

    • I’m pretty sure that the delay was a conspiracy just to force us to use the concessions. Make a little money back.

      And the lack of Okugo is mindblowing. He was probably the second best player on the pitch last night. What more does he need to do? Hell, the man defended crosses. It’s amazing.

    • Agree 100%

  6. msg24365 says:

    Oh, and best tweet from the game — “It looks like the spaceship from Independence Day is hovering over PPL”

  7. DarthLos117 says:

    Those fat unicorns blow.

  8. I like the format, if only to better guarantee that MLS clubs advance to the next level. Hell, at least we can say that the Union have won at least one USOC match. But it seems as if the Union need to consider a smaller alternate site for these early round Cup matches, much like DC and others do. It just doesn’t appear to be economically feasible to host anything very low in attendance at PPL. I’m sure, as it was described, they ran the place on a shoestring, but it must have cost something to open the doors, run the lights, the bathrooms, etc.
    As for the match, well, it’s easy to say that the Union won a match they should have won. But, since there have been so few wins this year, we’ll take any win, especially for something that counts. Hopefully they get a couple more wins in these next two friendlies, and try to figure something out. But, somehow, I don’t feel that they will.

    • If they have the match elsewhere than they can’t stream it, or televise them. Money or no money, I liked watching the game steamed live.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Better guarantee MLS Clubs advancing? 7 of 14 MLS teams that played last night lost.

    • mrdivothead says:

      The idea of the Union playing home Open Cup games somewhere other then PPL is absurd. The teams that play Open Cup games at alternative sites (DC, Seattle, NE) do so because they don’t own their stadiums. It costs them too much money to rent the large stadiums they normally play in, so they pay a smaller fee for a smaller venue. The U, on the other hand, already have a place, so paying extra to rent out West Chester or Widener’s stadium doesn’t save the Union any money. The lights at PPL cost the same as the lights at Widener, the cost to run a concession stand is the same as at West Chester.

  9. Well if they could play that well against MLS opposition they could be at the top of the table. Unfortunately, the game is clearly not instructive of how they play when faced with a more serious opponent, who are not road weary.

    Otherwise, great game. The possession was fantastic. The movement on and off the ball was good. The passess were crisp and accurate. Could be better but over all a great performance. Defensively they could use more work. Rhinos looked dangerous at times and had a few instance of good movement and possession.
    Ultimately, the Union players seemed more confident because of the nature of the opposition and the game itself.

    Hopefully, they will at some point be able to play like that against an MLS team.

  10. Best part was the SOBs switching sides at halftime.

  11. MikeRSoccer says:

    I found it very disturbing that Nowak returned to nearly the same formation he used against Toronto. As Eli noted, the backs were pushed very high up the pitch again. Especially in the first half there were numerous times when Rochester players were through down the Union’s flanks, but luckily the passes that were played to them were horrendous and thus it never became a major threat. Against an MLS team, such as Toronto, the Union would have surely conceded. Another reason that Philly played better is that for once Nowak actually played Adu in his natural position, CAM. Adu is not a RW. Every game he displays his instinct to cut into the middle long before the 18 yard box and when he is deployed as a RW/RM he still plays as a CAM meaning that there is inevitably a giant hole on the right side. Just let him play CAM. Okugo played excellent I thought, but his marking, especially on corners and in the air in general, is still lacking. Pajoy has no right to be on the field anymore. Rochester was horrendous and he still accomplished nothing. He is a total bust and would be my absolute last choice for the attack. Start Martinez and Mwanga with Adu behind them as CAM.

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