|photo by Matt Kremkau
by Anthony J. Merced
New York Red Bulls exited the Leagues Cup in the round of 16 on Tuesday night following a penalty shootout to the Philadelphia Union at Subaru Park. The game saw both teams play a physical style that benefited New York's low-scoring, high defense, approach. While they were able to stay level through 90 minutes, it was costly errors in the penalties that would see to their exit.
New York pushed the game early, causing the Union to make critical mistakes. Red Bulls pounced on one such mistake in the fourth minute when a counter attack left Omir Fernandez in on goal. His lateral pass found an open Elias Manoel who scored the game's opening goal. From there Philadelphia chased their opposition for the remainder of the first half. At times the Red Bulls created opportunities but were unable to find a second goal.
The physicality picked up in the second half and key substitutes leaned in the home team's favor. Head coach Troy Lesesne removed Fernandez and Manoel after just 57 minutes, leading to the team absorbing more pressure. Eventually it would cost them as the Union found the equalizer in the 68th minute. A header from Nathan Harriel beat both Sean Nealis and goalkeeper Carlos Coronel. Both teams kept the level of physicality going all the way to the 90th minute whistle.
A late substitution before the final whistle saw Lewis Morgan make his long-awaited return with the express purpose of taking a penalty kick. Morgan, who was the team's leading goal-scorer last season, stepped to the stop first and had his effort stopped by Union keeper Andre Blake. From there Daniel Edelman hit the bar leaving them with just 3 goals after 5 attempts. The Union hit all but one, sealing New York's fate.
While it is a rough way to exit the tournament, New York proved to be formidable in knockout soccer, frustrating Union head coach Tim Curtin on numerous occasions. The Red Bulls will return to MLS play on August 20th against DC United at Red Bull Arena.
New York Red Bulls: Coronel; Harper (90' Lewis), Reyes, Nealis, Tolkin, Fernandez (57' Duncan), Edelman, Amaya, Luquinhas (70' Yearwood), Manoel (57' Barlow), Vanzeir (70' Stroud)
Philadelphia Union: Blake, Glesnes, Elliott, Lowe, Harriel, McGlynn, Flach (55' Bueno), Wagner, Carranza, Gazdag ('55 Uhre)