US Open Cup

USOC match report: Union 3-2 City Islanders

Philadelphia Union gave up a two-goal lead but managed to defeat Harrisburg City Islanders when Roland Alberg slammed a free kick home late in second half injury time in Chester Wednesday night.

The Union were up 2-0 at halftime but gave up two goals in the final eleven minutes of the match before Alberg stepped up to save the day.

First half

The Union came out with a fresh front four and Ray Gaddis wearing the captain’s armband for the first time. Gaddis was joined in the back by Ken Tribbett, Richie Marquez, and Fabinho. Vincent Nogueira and Warren Creavalle were the holding midfielders behind Walter Restrepo, Roland Alberg, and Ilsinho. Fabian Herbers started alone up front.

The home side announced themselves early with Gaddis exploring the right touchline. The captain’s cutback for Ilsinho was blocked away, but it portended the opening goal that followed a minute later.

This time it was Vincent Nogueira getting to the endline on the right and looping a soft cross to the front post. Fabian Herbers challenged, and the ball fell to Restrepo, who powered home into an empty net.

The Union continued to threaten, with Ilsinho and Herbers exchanging passes that saw the Brazilian come close to doubling the lead.

Ilsinho’s hat trick of early chances was complete in the 16th minute when Gaddis headed the ball into the winger’s path. A drive at goal was blocked away again as Philly’s search for a two-goal cushion continued.

In the 27th minute, the City Islanders countered off a wonderful long pass from former Union man Aaron Wheeler. Nothing came of the chance, but it was a signal that the visitors would not go away very easily.

Former preseason roommates Wheeler and John McCarthy came together twice in the space of a few minutes as the City Islanders started to attack off turnovers in midfield.

Philly worked the ball through the middle in the 32nd minute, and Alberg laid off for Herbers to drive through the defense. The rookie striker plowed his shot just wide of net.

In the 45th minute, Philly finally doubled their lead off of their strong counterpress. Ilsinho knocked the ball loose at the top of the attacking third, and Herbers recovered it to drive at the box. He drew the defense then spread the ball wide to Alberg who coolly slotted home.

Second half

The City Islanders came out pressing well in the second frame and immediately began to generate opportunities. A scuffed shot from the penalty spot in the 50th minute served as a warning that the Union didn’t heed.

Two minutes later, the visitors were back at it, weaving through the box only to meet the large, advancing frame of McCarthy, who preserved the two-goal lead.

In the 56th, the City Islanders got a clear look at goal, but the shot deflected off Wheeler as he traversed the goal mouth behind the defense. It was one way traffic for a while as the visitors shut Nogueira out of the match and isolated the Union fullbacks.

Philly answered in the 62nd, one minute after Ilsinho made way for Leo Fernandes. Fabinho put in a sweet low cross from the left and Herbers flicked it toward goal, but Noble slapped it away to keep his side close.

Carroll entered for Nogueira as the Union sought to take the flow out of the match. It didn’t help, however, as a static home side quickly saw their lead cut in half.

Foster collected the ball on the left and drove into the box. In a congested area, the ball popped out, and the City Islanders man was the only one to react, dribbling a shot across his body that left McCarthy wrong-footed to make the score 2-1.

In the 88th minute, Jose Barril was correctly sent off for a cynical challenge from behind on Leo Fernandes. As Fernandes drove into the final third, Barril simply swept out his legs from behind.

But three minutes later, the 10-man visitors had the match even. Bobby Warshaw snuck past Warren Creavalle and left Ken Tribbett swinging at air. The Harrisburg captain slotted the ball past a stranded McCarthy, and it looked like extra time was in the cards.

Roland Alberg had other plans.

The Dutch midfielder stepped up to a free kick from the center of the “D” at the top of the box and whipped the ball into the upper left hand corner of the net. The unstoppable strike sent the Union past the City Islanders and into the next round of the US Open Cup.

The Union resume MLS regular season action on June 18 against NYC FC in Yankee Stadium.

Philadelphia Union
John McCarthy; Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Ken Tribbett, Ray Gaddis (C); Warren Creavalle, Vincent Nogueira (Brian Carroll 73’); Walter Restrepo, Roland Alberg, Ilsinho (Leo Fernandes 61’); Fabian Herbers (Sebastien Le Toux 78’)
Substitutes not used: Matt Jones, Anderson, Keegan Rosenberry, Tranquillo Barnetta

City Islanders
Nick Noble; Shawn McLaws, Liam Doyle, Shane Johnson; Danny DiPrima (Craig Foster 69’), Paul Wilson, Jose Barril, Bobby Warshaw (C); Aaron Wheeler, James Thomas, Matthew Bolduc (Cardel Bendow 69’)
Substitutes not used: Keasel Broome, Shane Campbell, Youssef Naciri, Joshua Hughes, Brett Jankouskas

Scoring Summary
PHL: Restrepo — 3′
PHL: Alberg (Herbers) — 45+1′
HCI: Foster (Wheeler) — 79′
HCI: Warshaw (Wheeler) — 91+1′
PHI: Roland Alberg — 90+3′

Disciplinary Summary
PHL: Marquez — 19′
PHL: Creavalle — 32′
HCI: Benbow — 81′
HCI: Johnson — 84′
HCI: Barril (straight red) — 88′

Stats (PHI / HCI)
Shots: 15 / 12
Shots on Target: 5 / 6
Possession: 62% / 38%
Passing Accuracy: 59% / 41%
Fouls: 12 / 17
Corners: 2 / 4
Duels won: 40 / 41
Tackles won: 9 / 14

Sorin Stoica (referee), Ross Kleinstuber (assistant), Jaroslaw Werel (assistant), Ryan Dos Reis (fourth)


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    There’s something missing from the scoring summary 🙂

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    I thought the Union had an excellent first half but by the second you could tell that this was mostly a team of backups who were struggling to keep the pace for a full game. There were still spurts of energy but also some tired legs.
    Third goal they’ve given up this season at Talen Energy Stadium while up a man so that is something that still needs work. I was not happy with the restart after the red card. They should have played it forward and tried to close out the game rather than passing backwards and sucking out their own momentum.
    Even after the winning goal, the Union provided some excitement with Seba on a clear breakaway but Noble made a nice save.

    • pragmatist says:

      They have never played well with a man advantage in the history of the franchise. A truly amazingly persistent dynamic. Someone needs to find a solution to that.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Instinctively, I refer you Andy Muenz’s first paragraph, and also to subbing for a tired V.incent Nogueira

  3. Old Soccer Coach says:

    I have seen City Islanders play three times this season, live v. Wezt Chester United’s senior team in an earlier open cup round, on you tube against BSFC, and tonight. In each game, at a critical moment Bobby Warshaw has come forward out of the DCM slot to run onto a pass and score.

  4. Fun game. Got field side seats. Going to make that a tradition for the first U.S. Open game each year. Kids were not impressed meeting Earnie.

  5. Good for Alberg! I swoon when thinking about him, Ilsinho, Barnetta, and Nogs all finding their top form together

  6. I love this new union where they can win a game that’s been left till the very end, but really? We bring on BC and that’s how we play defense for the last 20 minutes? Enough griping, on to the good.
    Love that alberg and restrepo both got on the score sheet. Those guys needed the confidence boost getting their first for the senior team, nevermind the opponent. Restrepo’s work rate was impressive all night and alberg was more controlled than in his last significant outing. Watching restrepo reminded me a little bit of Danny Cruz the way he was bombing up and down the wings (in a good way).

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      But Restreppo has feet! The human bowling ball – said with love, affection and admiration – did not. Restrepo can carry into the center on the dribble with a decent chance of beating someone one v one. That was not a Danny Cruz strength.
      If you had seen Walter Restrepo in the Steel’s scrimmage against Georgetown the morning of the Union’s home opener, you would understand how important your “impressive work rate” observation is.
      Your statement alone validates the existence of the Steel.
      And most recently Restrepo was the midfielder through whom the attack was played for the farm club when he was available. He deserves full marks for not sulking, getting to work and improving his game above what it had been.

      • absolutely agree on the cruz point. the man was devoid of touch, but we all loved the hustle he brought. Its great to see we have a guy in restrepo who can replicate that and has the talent to do more. It’s also why i wanted to compare the two of them, just to give perspective to how far we’ve come from union 1.0 to now.
        Admittedly, I’ve been slacking when it comes to Steel games. early in the season i was watching all of them, but as we got nearer copa america I stopped keeping up. Glad to see how much having that team has paid dividends already.

  7. Andy Muenz says:

    Looks like NYCFC and DC United were the only MLS teams to lose last night. So I’m guessing the Union’s bracket for the next two rounds will include the Revs, Cosmos, and Pink Cows. Has anyone checked if there are any events at Pink Cow Barn on July 20 that could create a debacle like last year?

    • good memory, I had forgotten about that. Not sure how the home side seedings work, they might re-draw those today as well. But they will do this next bit geographically like you said. Basically 4 groups of 4 teams matched by area. so most likely:
      1. Fort Lauderdale, orlando, columbus and Chicago
      2. Philly, 2 new yorks, and New England
      3. seattle, portland, RSL, LA
      4. Dallas, SKC, Colorado, Houston.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I believe today’s draw sets the groups of 4, sets the priority for hosting each of the next 2 rounds and determines which groups play in the semis (possibly including which group winners host the semis).

  8. Thought the first half was pretty good considering it was mostly backups. Some promising combo play in the final third with Alberg, Ilsinho, Herbers, and Restrepo. I know it was against a lower level opponent but it was also good to see Gaddis getting forward more then he is known for.
    I think the second half was a case of losing concentration/motivation – small crowd, coming off break in games, 2 goal halftime lead against a lower level team, etc. The team looked to try to go into cruise control and got punished for it until Alberg saved the day.
    All objectives met though – 1) Advance to next round; 2) Get some backups minutes; 3) Get some starters minutes after the Copa layoff.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      “Promising?” You are restrained due to the quality of the opposition and the level of resistance being presented at that time, correct?
      Me, I thought it was pretty. El P may not have been pleased, but he thinks Barca needs a tune-up. My standards are lower, many years of adapting to the possible, I suppose.

  9. Good to get a win, regardless of “foul” or not, still a really good free kick from Alberg. The ref was maddeningly inconsistent. I agree with CPfeif points of meeting objectives. Definitely the team fell asleep in the second half, hopefully that’s mostly due to alot of the team not having played a full 90 in a long while. It was good to see Alberg not being so aggressive with his tackleing. I thought Gaddis was much improved in getting forward, looks like he’s learning from Rosenberry. It was also good to see Restrepo not so eager to try and play through 3 defenders so often, and pass instead. Definitely missed having a target forward, though Herbers does continue to look promising. This team definitely needs to build more of a cutthroat attitude. You can’t let any team regardless of “talent” hang around.

  10. Watching Wheeler play forward and couldn’t help but think about the past. Our former head coach at one time (and fake prez) signed hm. They actually thought he was good enough to make an impact in MLS. Thank you Earnie Stewart, and Jim Curtin and Chris Albright.

    After watching Blake all year and can say with confidence McCarthy is pretty, pretty, pretty bad.

    At this point in his career, Brian Carroll plays to the level of his opponent. Lately since MLS has gotten better he has impressed me with his work ethic and smarts. Last night he looked like the guy from 2 years ago and I know he can do so much better.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Might the quality of play in the league have improved, as a potential alternative explanations. “Backy” Soumare had been good before going overseas. Upon return he could neither win nor hold a starting job..
      By no means is MLS elite. Neither is it dross [sic].

  11. Ilsinho got some well needed minutes looked very good with Herbers and Alberg all day. Gaddis also looked pretty good working with Ilsinho a lot less standing around and more movement off of Ilsinho when he was on the ball. Restrepo looked comfortable on the left side and lost on the right don’t know if that is because of Fabi and Gaddis or just that he is a left sided player. Herbers had good movement and instincts again to get into the right spots. But some players on this team need to just have at it and rip a shot once in awhile. Alberg died down in the second half stopped playing defense at all. However Alberg clearly saved the day with a very nicely struck free kick. Alberg to me in the full 90 played 40 minutes worth of defense the rest of the time just held up top (this is probably why he is not getting starts). That and he is behind Barnetta on the depth chart. I think it could be interesting though to put out a lineup of:
    Alberg Barnetta Ilsinho (I think these 3 could provide some interesting interchanging play)
    Nogs Carroll
    Fabi Marques Tribbet Rosenberry

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      In reference Restrepo, I favor your unfamiliar thesis is, not your left-sided one. He has played very effectively on the right for the Steel once moved there. He is both a threat to get behind the defense with speed but also perfectly placed to penetrate the central channel on the dribble looking to distribute with his strong foot shielded from the defense.
      The damn spellchecker does not recognize the word “thesis.” Sorry.

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