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Union get the better of Red Bulls in U.S. Open Cup once again

The Union are through to the Open Cup quarterfinals for the fifth time in their history.

The goalscorers
Trey Madara

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

And again.

And again.

Philadelphia Union striker Cory Burke failed to convert on three golden scoring opportunities in the first half, but he made amends early in the second half.

Burke slipped behind the defense, received a perfect pass from Alejandro Bedoya, and finally found paydirt to provide a critical insurance goal during the Philadelphia Union’s 2-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls on Saturday in a U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 game.

His fist pump following the goal was as much for relief as it was in celebration in what had been, up to that point, a frustrating evening for the striker.

“When I scored, it was the greatest thing,” Burke said. “I kept my head up [after the first half] and I knew that the next chance that I got I was going to put it away.”

Haris Medunjanin scored the game’s first goal—also assisted by Bedoya—as the Union advanced to the quarterfinals for the fifth time in club history and the first since 2016. They will host the winner of DC United and Orlando on July 18.

The game marked the fourth straight year the Union have met the Red Bulls in the Open Cup, and they have gone 3-1 against them.

“This tournament is very important,” Burke said. “We want to win it and we have to give everything we’ve got.”

Burke’s unlucky night started in the sixth minute, when his first clear chance was saved by New York goalkeeper Luis Robles. He was brought down inside the box a minute later, but no call was made. In the 32nd minute, he nodded on a beautiful cross from Fafa Picault, but his header trickled just wide of the post.

Three minutes later, a laser-beam shot from Picault was pushed out by Robles. Burke was presented with a juicy rebound opportunity, but his shot sailed over the crossbar. The misery wasn’t over yet, as before the break, Burke made a nice run just inside midfield, zipped past Aurelien Collin, and cut back against another defender but his shot couldn’t find the target.

“I talked to him a bit at halftime,” Bedoya said. “Those were a couple of balls he knows he can do a lot better with. At halftime we kept telling him he was going to get another chance and that you better put it away. He made sure of that.”

Medunjanin bailed his striker out in the 52nd minute. After receiving a pass from Bedoya, Medunjanin moved the ball from his left to his right and back to left in less than a second, created a sliver of space between him and Tim Parker, and belted a shot that deflected off a defender and past Robles.

“I called for it from Alejandro. He passed it to me and I made my action,” Medunjanin said. “I shot the ball and had a little luck that it touched a defender and it went in.”

The Union went up 2-0 in the 61st minute when Bedoya hit Burke in stride at the top of the box and the Jamaican native finally figured out how to beat Robles.

“It was great for Cory to score, but it’s probably a night where he could have had four or five goals,” Union manager Jim Curtin said with a smile. “But credit him as he kept going and created chances.”

It was a key goal as the Red Bulls sliced the deficit in half on Bradley Wright-Phillips’s goal in the 78th. Despite a couple of harrowing moments over the last 16 minutes, including a brilliant, diving save from Union ‘keeper Andre Blake in the 81st minute, the Union held on for the victory.

“Overall, it was a very good win against a good team,” Curtin said. “It’s a survive-and-advance mentality. We have a home game now and we are three wins away from a trophy, which is something to be proud of.”