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McCarthy saves save Union

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Some happy fans!
Some happy fans!
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

With his old team in his hometown, John McCarthy put on a show. The Northeast Philly native secured the Union's passage into the next round with three huge penalty stops after 120 minutes of scoreless play.

"I'm just hoping to save a couple, that's all I really could hope for," McCarthy said when asked about his thoughts prior to penalties. "I saved a couple and we won, so it was great."

This wasn't any old penalty shootout for McCarthy, who made his first start since suffering a concussion in a game on May 2nd. On Tuesday night, McCarthy went up against Rochester Rhinos, the team with which the goalkeeper won both USL Rookie of the Year and USL Goalkeeper of the Year in 2014.

While his experience with Rochester certainly aided the Union's preparation in the lead-up to Tuesday's match, McCarthy's knowledge of the Rhinos produced tangible results when the game came down to penalty kicks.

"Tony Walls, we just talked, that's where he shot all the time in practice," said McCarthy, whose knowledge of his former teammates' tendencies paid off last night.

Two hours of mostly stagnant play were what necessitated penalties, though both teams had chances to end the match at a more reasonable hour.

Most notably, Rochester had a shot cleared off the line in second half stoppage time after John McCarthy came out for a ball 40 yards from his goal and failed to win it. Ray Gaddis managed to clear a ball chipped over a scrambling McCarthy, but was obliterated in the process. Just a few minutes prior to this clearance, McCarthy managed to deny a Rhino of an excellent volley from 15 yards out. The second-year goalkeeper had a great game for much of regulation before suffering two gaffes that nearly cost his team.

"I yelled at him at the start of overtime," Curtin said, unhappy with his goalkeeper's adventures into the world outside of the 18-yard box.

The Union also had a number of chances in a game that played out in much the same way as the New York City FC encounter. The home team did well getting forward and serving dangerous balls into the box, but they were dealt with well by the opposing defense. Former Colorado Rapids center back Grant Van De Casteele, who won the 2013 NCAA Championship at PPL Park as a member of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, was immense for the Rhinos.

CJ Sapong, starting in place of the injured Fernando Aristeguieta, had another strong showing, earning praise from Curtin for his excellence in the air. The fifth-year forward has been tremendous over the past month, making a case for a starting spot even with the roster at full strength.

The Union will play either the New York Cosmos or New York City FC in the next round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which is set to take place on either June 30th or July 1st.