Storm clouds over PPL Park during the 45-plus minute delay in the first half of the Philadelphia Union's 3-0 win over the Rochester Rhinos in the third round of the 2012 US Open Cup. (Photo by Scott Kessler for the Brotherly Game)
The Philadelphia Union won their first ever US Open Cup game, defeating the visiting Rochester Rhinos 3-0 in a rain affected game.
Keon Daniel started off the first half well, winning a corner early. The Trinidad and Tobago international was slightly hurt on the play and got up slowly and gingerly. On the ensuing corner, Josue Martinez was in position to get on the end of a failed clearance by the Rhinos, scoring the Union's first goal in USOC since last year's 2-2 penalty kick loss to D.C. United.
Chris Konopka, after making poor decisions on the ball, came up with a huge save on a header from around the six. The tall, former Irish double winning goalkeeper seemed to come out of nowhere as he transitioned from out of the play to right on top of the ball to make the stop.
Throughout the first half, Michael Farfan, playing out of the right wing back position, was too much for Rhino left back Traynor. Farfan left Traynor flat footed on more than one occasion, including when he lofted in a ball from the left side of the box and found Lionard Pajoy, who headed the ball slightly wide of the net.
Shortly thereafter, the game was delayed. Storm clouds could be seen for a few miles and fans at the stadium were told to head underneath the stands for protection against possible lightning strikes.
After about a 45-minute long delay, the game was resumed.
Freddy Adu nearly had a shot deflected into the net and he took the corner that came from it. The corner was cleared and sent back in toward Okugo, whose attempt was saved by Rhino goalkeeper Kristian Nicht.
On another Union corner, Pajoy almost put one in and it was followed by a great run by Martinez but no goal.
A cross by Martinez was met by Adu's head and the Union had their second goal minutes after the Martinez run. The assist gave Martinez his third in two games and five points in those matches (one reserve game with two assists and this USOC game).
Brian Carroll connected on a header off if a great Marfan cross, but it went over the crossbar. The Union would start having to defend a little bit after that attack.
Some pretty play by the Rhinos leads to a corner. It was headed out by the Union defense, sent back out and then run down the field for a corner.
The Rhinos scored before the end of the half, but it was called back for offside, something that would happen regularly to Rochester last night.
After half time, and the long rain delay, there were still around 2,000 fans at the stadium.
Shortly after the game restarted, rain began to pour again and the Sons of Ben migrated from the River End to the Chester End, giving the game a feel of a 2010-era match. Chants of "You're just fat unicorns" and other custom songs could be heard throughout the stadium as at least 500 Sons of Ben members stood together without cover.
The second half's play wasn't nearly as exciting, as the Union took to playing a possession base game with little push forward at the beginning beyond Marfan being taken down in the box. Adu stepped up and converted the penalty kick, making it 3-0 in favor of the Union.
"Oooooooole" was the chant of choice for the later portions of the second half, with series of passes being put together by the Union. Pajoy managed a header the ball off of the crossbar and Carroll saw his follow up go just wide.
Martinez later had a shot blocked by Nicht, but was able to pounce on the rebound, sending it barely right of the near post, which was one of the last attacks by the Union of the night.
The referee would eventually blew the final whistle, after three minutes of stoppage time, officially ending the Union's first ever hosting of the USOC.
The Union play next Tuesday (June 5) at Soccerplex, MD against DCU in the fourth round of the 2012 USOC, as DCU defeated the Richmond Kickers in their own third round game.