Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 2-1 New York Red Bulls

Photo: Rob Simmons

Philadelphia Union are now three wins away from their first trophy in franchise history.

In the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16, the Union overpowered New York Red Bulls and advanced to the quarterfinals through a 2-1 victory Saturday night at Talen Energy Stadium.

Midfielder Haris Medunjanin opened the scoring in the second half with a magnificent goal from distance before forward Cory Burke doubled the lead. While the Red Bulls got a goal back through substitute Bradley Wright-Phillips late in the match, it wasn’t enough to overcome an impressive performance by Philadelphia.

The win extended an unusual Open Cup streak for the Union, who are now unbeaten in their last 12 matches in the tournament. Because the competition considers defeats in penalties as draws, the Union’s last defeat came in the 2014 final against Seattle Sounders.

Due to the regional setup of the Open Cup, it was the fourth consecutive tournament the Union faced the Red Bulls. While Philadelphia secured victories in 2014 and 2016, New York got some revenge last year and eliminated their rival via a penalty shootout.

With ample time off before and after the game, Union manager Jim Curtin deployed a lineup comprised of his regular starters. The lone exception was up top, where Cory Burke got the start. While form could have dictated the move, C.J. Sapong did miss training this week with an undisclosed illness.

Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch didn’t have the same luxury of rest, with his team coming off a midweek win over Seattle Sounders. One of MLS’ best, Bradley Wright-Phillips, was replaced by Carlos Rivas. Young attacker Derrick Etienne was also got a start on the wing with usual starter Daniel Royer catching a break.

For the first 45 minutes, it was more of the same scoreless play that featured in the sides’ 0-0 draw at the end of May.

It took Burke six minutes to carve out the first chance of the game. As the Jamaican made a run down the right flank, midfielder Borek Dockal played a pass which cut through the Red Bulls five-man back line and isolated the forward with Red Bull goalkeeper and captain Luis Robles, who came his line to keep Burke’s shot from finding the back of the net.

The Union absolutely wasted a glorious opportunity in the 32nd minute. Quick Union ball movement put left winger Fafa Picault in a one-on-one battle on the left side of the box. With some fancy footwork, Picault created space and served a juicy cross on a platter to Burke, who was left all alone on the edge of the six-yard box. Without having to jump, the forward headed toward an invitingly empty net, but the placement left much to be desired.

Four minutes later, another chance went wanting. Cutting in from the left flank, Picault fired a difficult curler on goal. The goalkeeper made the save, but pushed an appetizing rebound to the center of the box. Burke was there to collect, but his one-touch volley from close range soared over the bar.

Shortly after the second half resumed, the Red Bulls came close to making the Union pay for their wasteful ways. In the 49th minute, Rivas collected a pass in the box with his back toward goal. As he tried turning, the ball deflected and caromed into the path of left wing back Kemar Lawrence. The Jamaican hammered an attempt that beat his international teammate Andre Blake, but couldn’t beat the crossbar.

The shot served as an alarm for the Union, who didn’t let the next opportunity slip by.

The magical mystery man by the name of Medunjanin cut onto his favored left foot and curled a wondrous goal into the far corner from just outside the edge of the box. It gave the Union the lead in the 53rd minute.

The goal provoked a predictable response from the Red Bulls, as Marsch brought on the dangerous duo of Wright-Phillips and Royer in the 60th minute. But it would be the Union who struck next.

Seconds after New York’s alterations, Burke finally scored a much-deserved goal. Captain Alejandro Bedoya played a pass straight through the heart of the visitor’s defense and Burke was again alone with Robles. This time he cooly slotted the ball into the back of the net in front of the River End, doubling Philadelphia’s lead.

The Red Bulls, though, weren’t dead yet. In the 77th minute. Wright-Phillips combined with the Red Bulls’ newest designated player, Alejandro Romero Gamarra. Kaku, as he is better known, slipped a pass between center back Mark McKenzie and left back Raymon Gaddis. Wright-Phillips exploited the space and cut the Union’s lead in half with a clinical finish.

Three minutes later, Kaku threatened to add a goal to his assist, but Andre Blake’s diving save kept the Union in the lead.

It proved to be New York’s last gasp as the Union were able to buckle down and see out the remainder of the match.

League play resumes next Saturday for the Union when they host Vancouver Whitecaps. It was also be a historic night for the team, as club legend Sebastian Le Toux will be the first player inducted into the Union’s Ring of Honor. Kickoff is at 5 p.m.

As for the Open Cup, the Union will host the winner of Wednesday night’s clash between D.C. United and Orlando City SC. The quarterfinal matchup will be played on July 18.

Three points
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder. The Union were without their captain for their last two matches, but Bedoya had quite the return. He not only provided two assists, but controlled the midfield against a formidable side. The season he’s having needs to be talked about more.
  • Cup contenders. For whatever reason, the Union’s success in this competition is dramatically disproportionate to their success in league play. It’s because Curtin always treats the Open Cup with respect.
  • World Cup hangover. Maybe too many people started drinking and watching soccer at 6am. It’s the only excuse for the paltry attendance on a beautiful Saturday in June.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake; Keegan Rosenberry, Mark McKenzie, Auston Trusty, Raymon Gaddis; Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya; Ilsinho (Marcus Epps 65′), Borek Dockal (Warren Creavalle 83′), Fafa Picault; Cory Burke (David Accam 90′)
Unused subs: John McCarthy, Jack Elliott, Fabinho, Jay Simpson

New York Red Bulls

Luis Robles; Connor Lade, Aurélien Collin, Hassan Ndam (Florian Valot 73′), Kemar Lawrence; Tim Parker, Tyler Adams; Alejandro Romero Gamarra, Marc Rzatkowski, Derrick Etienne (Daniel Royer 61′); Carlos Rivas (Bradley Wright-Phillips 60′)
Unused subs: Sean Davis, Evan Louro, Alex Muyl, Aaron Long

Scoring summary

PHI: Haris Medunjanin – 52′ (Alejandro Bedoya)
PHI: Cory Burke – 61′ (Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin)
NYRB: Bradley Wright-Phillips – 77′ (Alejandro Romero Gamarra)

Disciplinary summary



  1. Union have definitely made a tradition of eliminating Red Bull from this competition. Just wish I was there to see Jesse Marsch pouting in person.

  2. Aurélien Collin is still the whiniest b***h in MLS .

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    Saw the Union goals on replay on the website and both looked excellent.
    There is one other reason for the lack of attendance. With the long break scheduled, people may have taken the opportunity to take vacations. My wife and I missed the game due to being in the car for 3.5 hours in Idaho. If the game was next Wednesday, we would have been there (and I expect to be there for the next game in July).

  4. OneManWolfpack says:

    Excellent win… regardless of the unfortunate attendance. I too was unable to attend, due to having to work, but I was at the Richmond game would’ve been there tonight if I could have. I’m assuming they won’t be at home again for the next round, since that would be 3 in a row… but who knows. Still need to finish the sitter-type chances they had (looking at you Burke) but overall liked what I saw. Haris, Ale, and Dockal can drive this team to a playoff spot if we can get some consistent scoring. Trusty and McKenzie are starting to show their youth a little too often… they need to tighten up a bit. Good win! And for tomorrow GO GERMANY!!! (and for the rest of the WC, Go Iceland too!)

    • Andy Muenz says:

      They will be at home next round. The draw for the round of 16 and the quarterfinals were done together with the first team drawn getting the double home. The Union had a 1/3 chance of that since Orlando didn’t apply to host either round and they got lucky. The DC-Orlando game is Wednesday night.

  5. Great One says:

    There was definitely under 1000 there last night, didn’t make sense.
    This has to show CJ shouldn’t start anymore right? The difference between him and Burke (who is far from polished) is glaring. He gets to the right spot more, runs significantly more often, and has better feet.
    Medunjanin and Bedoya both played angry last night, it was fun to watch.
    Once again, what has happened to David Accam?

  6. There was more than a 1000 there last night………..

  7. Haven’t not had so much fun at a game for ages. These Cup games are just the best! Have seen pretty much all and I just do not get it that not more show up. But there were a lot more than 1000; more like 5000.
    Burke was a beast and so much more dangerous than CJ. He caused all kinds of chaos and should have had 3 goals.
    Bedoya was not only playing well but also a great Captain. Many times he got into the face of his team mates to get them hustle more.
    If we had a better #10 then we could win this Cup and make it far into the playoffs.

    • Great One says:

      I take back the 1000 comment, giving respect to those who were there and could see the other side. By going off of the two corners and bridge side, it looked like less than 1000.

  8. I was at this game (and by the way, $15 seats, no per-ticket fees, general admission, so we sat in row F on the good side of the stadium right on the midfield stripe, and even got free parking — what a deal!!), and let me tell you, it was one of Medunjanin’s best performances in a Union kit. Nick’s description doesn’t quite do justice to his goal — he got the ball maybe 25 yards out with a defender right on him, cut left, then right, then back left again to make some space for himself, put the ball back on his favored left foot, and then unleashed an absolute screamer into the far upper corner that left Robles absolutely no chance. It was glorious. Besides that, he pinged long passes to the wings all day, and he played aggressive defense too. Dude was clearly on a mission after the Atlanta fiasco, and it showed.

    The second goal was a really nice team goal — great ball movement from several players, culminating in Burke’s nice finish (after missing 2 golden chances in the first half).

  9. The Truth says:

    Glad I came to the park on Saturday night. Fun game, nervy conclusion. Good on the boys for advancing once again in this tourny. Thought most of the squad had a good showing but Dockal and Ilsinho’s complete lack of chemistry hurts to watch. Love knocking out NYRB though so who cares!

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