After falling behind early, the Philadelphia Union rallied to defeat the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night. Chris Pontius and Ilsinho linked up twice in the second half to overcome an early goal from Mike Grella. The victory secures the Union's place in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, making it the third straight year that they've reached that stage.
The Red Bulls were totally dominant in the first 45 minutes, and the stats certainly reflect their overwhelming control. New York ripped 13 shots - six of them on target - in the first half alone. Of New York's barrage of shots, only one managed to beat Andre Blake. In the 17th minute, Mike Grella pounced on a rebound, sending the ball low and hard to the far post.
In the 35th minute, Grella launched a rocket from distance, but Blake acrobatically denied him his brace.
While the Red Bulls fired away, the Union failed to record a shot until the end of the first half. Le Toux rose up to nod a Tranquillo Barnetta free kick onto goal, but Ryan Meara came off his line quickly to make the save.
Bradley Wright-Phillips had a chance to double the lead in first-half stoppage time, but his shot flew over the bar.
In the second half, the Union looked more like the team we've been accustomed to seeing, as they got on the scoresheet with the quickness.
Chris Pontius equalled the score just ten minutes into the second half. Ilsinho found the winger with an excellent through ball as he made a run off the back shoulder of a Red Bull defender. The pass put Pontius in one-on-one with Meara, and he calmly stroked it past the outrushing 'keeper.
Five minutes later, the two linked up once again. Ilsinho delivered a ball from the flank that landed right at the feet of Pontius, who finished off the move to give his side the lead.
The home side held on to win, but it would have been uncharacteristic of the Open Cup to send us home without some juicy drama. In second-half stoppage, referee Mark Kadlecik sent off Union Assistant Coach Mike Sorber for supposedly kicking a ball onto the field. Pretty nuts, right? Well Jesse Marsch just couldn't let Sorber steal the show, and minutes later, he grabbed a pair of balls and furiously spiked them down near the Union's bench. It was a masterclass of a tantrum from Marsch, who quite literally stole two soccer balls from the fourth official's stand, threw them down, then continued on to the locker room without breaking stride.
On July 20th, the Union will ship up to Boston (sorry) to take on the New England Revolution in the next round of the Open Cup. That one will be played at Harvard's Jordan Field rather than Gillette Stadium, the Revs' spacious home.