Union match reports

Match report: New York Red Bulls 1 (5) – 1 (3) Philadelphia Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow

After a 1-1 stalemate through 120 minutes, Philadelphia Union fell to the New York Red Bulls 5-3 in a shootout to end their U.S. Open Cup run Wednesday.

After nearly being run off the field by New York in the first half, the Union came back and seemed to get stronger as the game wore on, scoring a late equalizer and rolling into extra time with all the momentum. Despite taking an astounding 27 shots, the Union failed to find their finishing touch in 120 minutes and gifted the Red Bulls a spot in the next round of the cup.

The Union missed several scoring chances against the run of play in the first half. While the Red Bulls pressured early and forced John McCarthy into a big double save against Sean Davis, the Union responded by wisely pushing the ball over New York’s high press. Both Jay Simpson and Fafa Picualt found themselves in acres of space and came up empty. Josh Yaro and Keegan Rosenberry were tepid on defense and downright disastrous on the ball throughout the first half.

The house of cards finally came tumbling down in the 42nd minute when Rosenberry kept Yaro’s hospital ball inbounds and gave it right to a streaking Sean Davis, who pushed the ball and found Bradley Wright-Phillips in the box. Wright-Phillips gingerly laid it off to a wide-open Sacha Kljestan, who easily slotted past John McCarthy from just a few yards out.

It was more of the same to begin the second half, with the Red Bulls holding the majority of possession but never really testing John McCarthy. Rosenberry and Yaro finally settled down, and Jack Elliott began to put his stamp on the game. C.J. Sapong had two near misses on goal – hitting one shot off the post and another just wide.

The game began to tilt more toward the Union late as Picault seemed to somehow gather steam and Marcus Epps was introduced into the fold. Still, it looked like Klejstan’s tally was enough to sink the Union’s Open Cup hopes before a late Roland Alberg goal – courtesy of a terrific pass from Elliott – ensured that the two rivals would play at least 30 more minutes.

In extra time, the Union continually found themselves in space behind a tired Red Bulls defense but simply could not put the ball in the goal. The inimitably energetic Picault had numerous chances, as did Sapong, Epps, and Alberg. As Jim Curtin said after the game, the Union had the Red Bulls on the ropes but couldn’t finish them off.

And so after 120 minutes, the game went to PKs. The Red Bulls went 5/5, while Picault –  the game’s most dangerous player – was denied by a fingertip save from Ryan Meara. The Red Bulls move on, while the Union will have to look elsewhere for their first trophy.

Three points
  • Missed opportunities: Simpson and Picault had golden opportunities to put the Union ahead early, and it was all Union late in the second half through extra time. Philadelphia should have put the game away, but kept coming up short.
  • Epps reps: Gotta love when a rookie is calling for the ball late in a tournament game. Marcus Epps was composed and confident, and hopefully his finishing will follow.
  • Picault pick-up: Somehow, Fafa Picault seemed to be running faster as the game wore on. He dragged defenders all over the field, ran past lines, and nearly broke the deadlock again and again. His final touch, like the rest of the team’s, just wasn’t there today.

Philadelphia: John McCarthy; Keegan Rosenberry, Josh Yaro, Jack Elliot , Fabinho; Haris Medunjanin, Derrick Jones (Adam Najem – 82′), Roland Alberg, Fafa Picault, C.J. Sapong (Chris Pontius – 115′), Jay Simpson (Marcus Epps – 61′).

Unused subs: Jake McGuire, Ray Gaddis, Oguchi Onyewu, Ken Tribbett

New York:  Ryan Meara; Damien Perrinelle, Aaron Long (Daniel Royer – 77′), Aurelien Collin (Connor Lade – 23′), Kemar Lawrence; Sean Davis (Gonzalo Veron – 100′), Sal Zisso, Tyler Adams, Sacha Klejstan; Bradley Wright-Phillips

Unused subs: Luis Robles, Dan Metzger, Derrick Etienne, Brandon Allen

Scoring summary

PHI – Roland Alberg (Jack Elliot) 86′

NYRB – Sacha Klejstan (Bradley Wright-Phillips) 42′

Misconduct summary

PHI – Chris Pontius (113′), John McCarthy (SO)

NYRB – Felipe (37′), Damien Perinelle (94′)

Philadelphia Union New York Red Bulls
27 Shots 17
 8 Shots on Target 4
 12 Shots off Target 7
7 Blocked Shots 6
 12 Corner Kicks 10
 25 Crosses 33
4 Offsides 2
15 Fouls 16
 2 Yellow Cards 2
 0 Red Cards 0
460 Total Passes 622
 73% Passing Accuracy 80%
42.5% Possession 57.5%
 69 Duels Won  56
 55% Duels Won %  45%
 20 Tackles Won 16
 3 Saves 7
 22 Clearances 26


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Union definitely picked it up in the second half and OT. If I remember correctly, shots were something like 12-4 in favor of NY at halftime. Still there were several times the Union players couldn’t seem to get out of each other’s way and the counterattacks stalled.
    Tough on the PK’s since McCarthy guessed right on 3 of 5 shots but just couldn’t get a hand on them. Meara only guessed right once but it was enough.
    10 straight unbeaten for the Union in the Open Cup. They haven’t lost outside of PK’s since Seattle beat them in OT and haven’t lost in regulation since DC beat them in 2013.
    While the NY announcers weren’t great (including saying that Pontius is having a great season) they came across as less biased than Taylor Twerpman and ESPN the last time these two teams played.
    Most important thing not mentioned above was that Sapong went off injured at the end of the first overtime. Any idea on his status for Sunday?

    • Honestly…Who cares if Sapong is hurt. He can’t finish and JC is running him into the ground again. Give the man a freakin rest already.

      • Well I wouldn’t go as far as “who cares” … but yes let CJ rest a week or two or three.

    • How does losing on PK’s = an unbeaten streak? What? In what world is that not a loss?

      • Andy Muenz says:

        FIFA considers a loss in PK’s to be a draw rather than a loss.

      • That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Hey we’ve won ALL our games…except those we lost.

      • It’s not an unfair characterization. Penalty kicks are essentially a dramatic coin toss.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Also, I should point out that I don’t think winning in PK’s counts as a win on your record either (although it obviously does advance you). But for ranking purposes it counts as a draw regardless of the outcome of the PK’s.

      • Thanks for the explanations Andy, I just can’t get my head around it. It’s like a participation award to me.

      • I agree it’s pretty dumb, and sort of splitting hairs. By FIFA’s interpretation, the game ended after 120 minutes with the score tied, so it gets recorded as a tie. Then, because they still need to determine who advances they do a shootout – not to determine who won the game, but to determine which of the two tied teams will move on.
        Again, pretty dumb. But, well, we can see “pretty dumb” about a lot of things associated with FIFA.

    • I’m not sure it’s bias at this point. The Union are terrible season after season and should be called out for it.

  2. That was a frustrating match to watch. It was like a clinic on how not to finish. If Picault could shoot, he’d have scored at least twice. Same for CJ. Even Medunjanin sent one ridiculously high. Rest of the team was busy demonstrating poor passing.

  3. That was just awful. It took two key RB defenders going down to injury for the Union to start to look like an actual team. And they still couldn’t finish. Meanwhile a completely average USL team took the second best team in MLS (at mostly full strength) to penalties and won (and who should have won 2-0 in regulation time). What a dumpster fire the Union are.

  4. The blame goes to Curtin on this one. Why he insists on playing Simpson with C.J. on the wing is beyond me. And if I ever see Simpson on the field again, it will still be too soon. The game totally changed when Simpson went out. That’s because he’s terrible. Please release him now. I don’t care if C.J. is hurt and we need to run Davis out there till he gets healthy. Just get rid of Simpson. Hell throw Curtin out too.

    • Are you serious? I don’t understand this attitude at all. Did you watch the same game? In the first half – when we were being systemically DISMANTLED by the high press – OUR BEST ATTACKS CAME THROUGH SIMPSON!

      He took on the two defenders that led to Picault’s breakaway.

      He pulled the pretty turn on Collen that led to the shot across the face of goal (which – if CJ had any goal sense, should have been an easy TAP IN at the back post).

      He has a good touch and makes goo runs – he also had that nice run and pass from DJ that the defense recovered on and forced out for a corner.

      I have no idea if this vicious anti-Simpson crusaders actually watch the game.

      And for the record, the game totally changed when Red Bulls lost 2 defenders and stopped their high press. If you seriously think Simpson was the reason the game turned around, you are delusional.

      • Yeah I watched the WHOLE thing, and Simpson was complete SHIT. Bad touches, bad passes, offered NOTHING! I think the game was lost when the lineup came out. And no I’m, not delusional. Hell even the RED BULL ANNOUNCER said the same. See I can hit caps lock too. You seem to think shit shines like gold.

      • I feel like I offered some examples of Simpson’s positives plays and you offered nothing except calling him shit.

        I understand we are mad he is a money ball no-name signing in a position we truly needed massive help at, but I’ve seen good qualities from him and I’d like to see more.

        Also Shep Messing is not someone you want to have agreeing with you.

      • Well if it was obvious to Shep, then it should have been obvious to you. But apparently not. Simpson made bad passes all night. He had trouble getting the ball out of his feet. He made maybe two nice turns on a CB. Sorry that’s not enough for me. When Collin went down how did Simpson take advantage of it? The answer is he didn’t. Hold on to your love for Simpson cause he’ll be gone soon, but not soon enough.

      • I ran out of time to add this….Sorry James, I’m just still pissed they lost a game they should have won. To the damn bleeping Pink Cows and cry baby Marsch. I just don’t see what you and maybe a few others see in Simpson. He may have some nice moves, but it rarely translates to anything productive. Sorry I just never want to see him in a Union uniform again.

  5. I can’t believe we lost that game. I mean, I can because they looked awful the first half and the goal RB scored was just abysmal from Keegan and Josh. But there were so many chances to finish that game out and win.
    Also, I’m having a hard time with people getting too angry at Fafa for not being able to finish as if that is an ongoing problem or something. He is usually one of the better finishers on the team

    • I actually thought Fafa had a beast of a game, except for being unable to finish. It happens. I can live with it, as long as it doesn’t become consistent. I will admit to thinking he was gonna miss when he took his PK. Just had that feeling. Sucks the loss was against the Pink Cows.

    • I cant fault Fafa for that reason. Players are going to have games like this, and you need other players to pick it up.

      Sadly CJ also stopped finishing.

      Pontius had a good rip at goal once, but later on he was dribbling in acres of space and was totally square at the top of the box, but he passed it wide to Epps instead of shooting.

      • I soooo wish Pontius had been greedy on that chance. He should have pounded that home!

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      And where was the Sun Rocket on RBs goal?

  6. The Truth says:

    Winnable game. So frustrated we didnt finish one of those shots, I didn’t even watch PKs. Poor CJ needs a rest but Simpson is truly, truly incapable of MLS play.

    • I had this same thought as well. There were way too many times that he looked like a total rookie with either not being able to cleanly receive a decent pass or pass efficiently to keep an attack moving. I also noticed after every game he plays people harp on and on about how many shots he takes. It may be true that he takes a lot of shots but they are usually terrible slow balls straight at the keeper

  7. Play your kids.
    I don’t get the anger of some comments. Curtin rolled out a starting lineup with 6 changes from the usual starters this season (McCarthy, Rosenberry, Yaro, Jones, Alberg, and Simpson) and used 2 of his 3 subs to bring on rookies (Epps and Najem). The Cows were the better team in the first half but they were playing a lot more of their key starters and the only goal came from a terrible ball by Yaro and a terrible decision by Rosenberry to keep it in play. The Union came back in the second half and played well, generated some good chances but did not finish them (which I agree is frustrating). It happens. But the priority is the league and this got a lot of second teams and youngsters some valuable playing time.

    • The only problem I had with the lineup is I wanted to see Najem earlier and even starting. No reason to have Alberg in at the 10 as long as he was.

      Of course he scored and then played well after that, but before that I really wanted to see more of Najem.

      • I’m in complete agreement here, James. I wanted to see Najem instead of Alberg in the starting XI. But that said, I thought Alberg actually had one of his better games.

    • If the league is the priority, why on earth do you run Cj and Medunjanin out there AND make them go 120 minutes? CJ might have feigned injury just to get a break. I wouldn’t blame him if he did. Now CJ might be injured and Medunjanin and Picault played 120 hard minutes and you have a game on Sunday.

      I can’t blame Simpson for looking poor. To me, he just didn’t really appear much. A few passes here and there. Nothing solid. Problem is he has another striker on the pitch posing as a midfielder. Alberg does nothing to defend. He might be — still — the best pure striker on this team. His whole attitude and play style scream #9 to me. Team might have been better off starting him up top with Najem behind him from the kickoff.

      I don’t know. It’s just not fun to watch this team at all right now.

      • Atomic Spartan says:

        The league is not the priority. It is 6/29 and look at the table. Play the kids and or get a world beater DP. (Ow, I just hurt myself laughing- world beater DP, clawed from Sugar’s tight fists. Ow, stop!)

      • I’m guessing Haris played because Bedoya is with the Nat’l team and Creavalle is injured. There are no other options unless you wanted to throw Ken Tribbett out there. With regards to Simpson, he set up our only 2 chances in the first half. Unfortunately, we took him out when the Red Bulls got tired from high pressing us. Would like to see him get a few starts because CJ has gone into his funk just like last year and took a little knock. Good to see Najem get some time. If we aren’t going to see a #10 signing this year then give him some first team minutes in that role. Anyone who thinks we are going somewhere this year is delusional so more time for him, Epps and Jones will be good. Too many road matches left and we know how MLS teams fair on the road.

      • All of our strikers look poor with the midfield combo of Jones (who I love but he’s not ready offensively yet) and Alberg.

      • I completely agree with you on CJ. Should have gotten the night off. Only problem with Medunjanin is there weren’t really any other options. Bedoya is unavailable, Creavalle is hurt, Carroll is hurt, Edu is always going to be hurt. There was no one else who could play that position next to Jones last night except him

      • Same story every year. The league isn’t a priority because they know they have no shot.

      • We’ve dug ourselves such a huge hole in the league that the season may be over. We’ll see what happens now when 4 out of our next 6 games are on the road (and won’t have Bedoya for 5 of them).
        Unless the players really pick it up and start playing at a high level, the season is going to be over in 3 weeks.

  8. Fafa’s work rate was unreal. The whole field was gassed and he was still running at them. Leaving him up top when red bulls were tired worked well. Simpson was terrible. Clumsy with the ball, poor communication. His touch let him down -Just terrible. Epps and Najem eventually found the game and were positives.

  9. The score should have been 3/4 to 1, Union win. I would rather have had root canal w/o being numb, than to have witnessed that lack of finishing. Horrible, flat out embarrassing to be honest. Hey coach, did you see how well both Najem & Epps played? Start them for Gods sakes. Let our future loose and play a full 90. Let them make mistakes, it would be soooo less painful to watch than aged non performing over paid veterans missing passes and shots ALL GAME LONG!!!!!!! I am founding member and right now I am soooo tired of watching this team make/REPEAT mistake after mistake that I’m becoming disgusted with the club. In the first half the pink cows made us look like the jv chasing the varsity trying to keep up. WE held them to one goal, very lucky but well done, now take it to them in the second half!!! Noooo, we did pick up the pace and possession and got the equalizer, great stuff… now win it! Instead we went on to miss EVERY opportunity to score to the point of “I CAN’T BELIEVE WHAT I’M SEEING HERE”… then in the extra time ny had sand in their shoes and within 5 minutes were COMPLETELY GASSED and we couldn’t score not once… 20+ minutes… AAAAGGGGHHHHHH… This shit has to stop!!!! One question to the players, coach, GM & ownership… How long is “too long”, to be the bottom feeder in this league??? ENOUGH ALREADY!!! Ok rant over… I have nothing left… sorry, I had to vent… rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…

  10. At least the club can’t do what it’s done the past few years. No leaning on mentioning the Open Cup every time after losing a regular season game, while they sit near the bottom of the standings. They will actually have to make some real changes soon.

  11. OneManWolfpack says:

    If anyone could have finished throughout the game, we would have won going away. Stop me if you’ve heard that line before… or this one: “Another winnable game… lost.” -Sigh
    This team can be absolutely brutal (some) MOST of the time.
    MAN that Cincinnati Chicago was amazing! Former Union man Corben Bone had a chance to win it (he blew it) and Jimmy McLaughlin looked like freakin Messi! HA! Congrats to Cincy though… they have a great thing going. Love that a USL or NASL team will be in the semi-final.
    Epps must play more. Elliott and Yaro must play together. Rosenberry was ok but he must play too. GW-Yaro-Elliott-Rosenberry as your back 4 from here on out. Also Najem looked good too. He must play.

  12. John Harris says:

    I actually thought that the game showed the Union are a player away from being serviceable. If they had BWP, they would have won that game 3-1. They would be much higher on the table too. Sapong tries real hard but just isn’t that proficient at scoring. Simpson struggled last night.

  13. The first real question should be, why the hell can CJ not get a rest or even a damn sub? The guy is dead, the same way he died last year. Once again a promising start to the year will be ruined by the coach riding him till his legs give out, this time maybe literally.
    Also, this hurts more than ever. The regular season has long been almost dead and now there’s no open cup. Please can we play the future? What are we going to do, keep losing? There’s literally nothing to lose except maybe an extra goal per game. The experience will hugely more important.
    I don’t see how Fafa or Medunjanin can play Sunday. That will pose a huge problem.

  14. scottymac says:

    It was a tale of two halves

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *