(Red Bulls forward Mike Grella – Photo by Mike Lawrence)
The New York Red Bulls were eliminated from the US Open Cup by the Philadelphia Union on Tuesday evening in the Quarterfinal match, as they lost 4-3 in a shootout after the game was tied at 1 after 120 minutes.
Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch said of the loss, “When you have a lot of pride in what you’re doing, when you empty the tank everyday and you come up empty, that’s what it does, it hurts bad, but my message is, ‘this won’t derail us in any way.’ Fortunately, we have some time now before we play a meaningful match and we have to keep our strong mentality. It just wasn’t our day. The different ways we got chances and weren’t able to put them in was a little odd, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
A big story heading into this match was the scheduling, and mainly how it ended up being on a Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 in the afternoon, ahead of the previously scheduled international Champions Cup match between Paris San-Germain and Fiorentina. Marsch said of this, “We tried every which way with Philly to re-schedule this, but they showed no flexibility whatsoever. We gave them probably five, six, seven options and they didn’t want to work with us. You feel like after all of that, and then for them to get the result, it makes it that much more painful. Obviously it’s not ideal but Philly didn’t want to work with us.”
The Red Bulls came out firing in this one, notching 11 shots on net, including 5 on goal, meaning they were high-quality. Most of those came in the first 25 minutes, but none of them yielded a goal.
The Red Bulls got a big break in the 40th minute when Philadelphia forward Conor Casey was sent off with a red card after taking down Damien Perrinelle on a challenge towards the sideline to the left of the goal.
Despite the man advantage for the Red Bulls, it was Philadelphia that broke through in the 55th minute when Cristian Maidana came down the left side, sent it into the box to Vincent Nogueira, how flipped it to Eric Ayuk coming down the right die, and Ayuk buried it to make it 1-0.
The Red Bulls got plenty of chances after that, with Sal Zizzo getting one immediately after entering the game in the 70th minute. In the 84th, they had a corner kick taken by Lloyd Sam, and he got it ot Mike Grella in the box, but he headed it wide.
Despite constant pressure, it took until extra time, in the 94th minute, for the Red Bulls to tie it. The ball was in the box, a Philadelphia defender tried to head it away, and it instead it went to Grella, who headed it to Lloyd Sam, who drilled it. Philadelphia’s defense played a flawless game until that moment, and it cost them the equalizer.
Lloyd Sam said of scoring the stoppage time goal, “At the time that was a great feeling. We needed a goal obviously and we got it, so I think you can imagine the relief for the team and me.”
In the overtime session, specifically the 11th minute, Philadelphia goaltender John McCarthy twice reached his hands out to prevent Bradley Wright-Phillips from getting a shot off. The ball then went to Grella, who shot it left.
Manolo Sanchez had a couple great chances in the 21st and 24th minutes. The first chance went off the left post.
Wright-Phillips had a great chance in the 30th minute of overtime, as he got off a great shot, McCarthy made the save, it ricocheted back to Wright-Phillips, who kicked it in for go-ahead goal. He was ruled offsides, as you cannot kick it back in after a save. This rule in some ways makes no sense, as it it a natural instinct to kick it back in after it is saved, as you would in hockey. (think the Rangers get a lot of goals this way)
The Red Bulls kept the pressure on in the final minute, and the referee blew the final whistle as Grella had control of it on the left side and was looking to make a play. Normally, the referee waits for a sequence like that to be completed before calling it.
In the shootout, the Red Bulls had Wright-Phillips take their first kick, and he hit the crossbar.
Marsch said of Wright-Phillips taking the first penalty, “Bradley stepped up and said ‘I want to take the first one’ so I said ‘great,’ I keep encouraging him to have confidence from the spot, obviously now that’s the third one that doesn’t go in for him, but I don’t want for him to waiver in his confidence. I want him to know how important he is to our team, and the belief we all have in him, so I know he’s hurting bad, but he’ll recover and he’ll be fine.”
Wright-Phillps said of his penalty kick, “I tend to not look at the goalkeeper. What frustrates me about that penalty is that I was very confident and I tried to be brave after missing two in one game and I just wasn’t rewarded for it and my team’s out of the Open Cup now.”
On his level of confidence heading into the penalty kick, BWP said, “Very. I was very confident. My record before this, I had 100%, I was very confident. I thought this would’ve been the penalty to help me get back on track by putting my team 1-0 up, but it wasn’t.”
The Red Bulls’ next two shooters, Dax McCarty and Mike Grella. made theirs. Philadelphia’s first three kickers, Sheanon Williams, Vincent Nogueira, and Maurice Edu all made their kicks, so they led 3-2 after the first three of the five were taken.
The fourth one for the Red Bulls was taken by Sam, and McCarthy deflected it and then just caught it as it nearly rolled in. The ball got halfway over, and it has to be 100 percent over for it to count. The Red Bulls still had a chance, as goalie Luis Robles stopped Fred to keep it going.
Sacha Kjlestan was the fifth kicker for the Red Bulls and he made his kick to tie it at four. The last kick for Philadelphia went to Fernando Aristiguieta, who faked Robles right and softly kicked it in to seal the victory.
This was the second time the Red Bulls lost to Philadelphia at home this season, with the first being a 2-0 loss on May 24th. Marsch said of the similarities between this match and the last loss to Philly, “[The matches] have been very similar, Philly has our number right now, so good for them, but the good news is we play them again August 1st so we won’t let that derail us.We’ll be ready to recharge our batteries and go again. ”
Marsch said of the player’s endurance after the Orlando match on Saturday, which was also played in hot and humid conditions, “I think both teams were toast. It’s not easy playing back-to-back hot, humid games. We went with a lot of the same guys because they felt good and I thought for the most part, a lot of guys played well. You would have to say, for most of the game, we played well. We played the game in their end, created chances. It’s weird because it’s two games now where it’s very similar games against Philly, and how we walk away with two losses is pretty surprising.”
Marsch on if the team was unable to take advantage of the man advantage: “I don’t think it even should have gone to penalties, but at the same time, we were lucky to get the goal at the end to push it to extra time so you could look at it both ways. Certainly I think if we’re sharper on the day, that we put that game away early. Even when it was even up, I thought we had chances. That’s two games against Philly where you feel like we’re in control for a lot of the game, but we’re just unable to make plays and punish them, and on the other side, they were able to make plays and punish us.”
New York Red Bulls midfielder Mike Grella 0n the tough loss: “We really felt like we could put together a really solid run and maybe win something here, but to end like that where they were a man down, we had plenty of chances and to lose in penalties…I don’t know, but tough, very tough.”
Grella on being out of the Open Cup: “We have to just pick it up again. The next match in the league, no question, is more important so we need to pick it back up. We’re having a really good run in the league so we have to keep that going.”
Grella said of this game being similar to the regular season face-off, “I thought it was very similar. We were all over them in the first and had some chances, and even in the second half. They sat back in, made it difficult for us, sat in a shell, and then hit us on a counter and scored, then they bunkered in from there. They made it very difficult and I think it was a carbon copy of the game we played against them in the league.”
Lloyd Sam on his feelings after the game: “That was an emotional roller coaster, getting the equalizer then losing it. It’s just thinking about the league now, which obviously you have to concentrate on anyway. Obviously Open Cup is gone, we put a lot into it but it didn’t work out.”
Wright-Phillips on if they shouldn’t have let it get to penalty kicks up by a man, “Should’ve never got to penalties, but it did and they were obviously mentally stronger than us or maybe the luck was on their side today, but you’re right it shouldn’t have gone to penalties. We had enough chances to win that game.”
On if the quick turnaround playing two games in four days effected the team, Wright-Phillips said, “It didn’t play into it. I think we looked like the better team when they had 11-men and I think we looked like the better team all day. We’re a fit bunch of lads and it showed, we just didn’t finish our chances.”
New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles said of the game, “Congratulations for Philly. They did really well dealing with the adversity, the heat, and 10 men. They limited our chances. The goalkeeper had a great game. When I look at our team I am just proud of our guys. This one is a tough one because this was one of our goals. We really felt that we could win. Having the sort of path that we did. Able to play at home against Philly. Regardless of the time and the sort of weather that we are going to go up against. The boys felt very confident. Philly played well. They made more penalties.
Robles said of the Open Cup tournament, “I think it brings a lot of value to what we are doing, understanding that nothing is a throw away. That we want to be the winner in every game that we play and every competition. I think that this is a mindset that is infectious and if it continues to permeate thought out the organization not only for this season but for next season there’s not doubt in my mind that we will win the US open cup and MLS Cup. There’s more than just quality on this club there’s a lot of character and I know that sooner or later when the season goes on, that character is what is going to carry us through every obstacle and every adversity. It’s what is going to allow us to be successful.”
Robles said of it being an elimination game, “I think the big letdown was when everyone walked into the locker room today, we all thought we were going to win. Sure you look at this past, sure there was a belief but there wasn’t that same sort of authenticity that existed here. I envisioned us wining and us celebrating even when we were going into the pks. I think that’s the hardest part. Dealing with the result when you so believed that it was going to be the other way around.”
Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin said of the win, “First and foremost it’s the Union’s biggest win in their history. The fan support was incredible, I thought that our players showed a ton of heart, the heart of a lion. I couldn’t be more proud. They represented the badge very well, they represented our fans, our city, left everything on the field so yes, it was a weird game, but at the same time I think there were some really special moments to hang on and fight and claw, people can talk about tactics and principles of play, style, and all these things, but at a certain point it comes down to men on the field and wanting to win and not lose at all costs. I thought our guys brought a mentality that was incredible on the day, yes, Red Bulls had 37 shots on goal, they had us pinned in, I thought the red card was soft, I thought it was a clumsy tackle by Connor [Casey], but it’s not a straight red card and that kind of ruined things, which was a pretty good game up until then, but our guys held on and again I couldn’t be prouder of the group.
Curtin said of John McCarthy’s performance, “Great game. The little things too, coming out on the one where Wright-Phillips looks like he’s in one-on-one and then the scramble in the box, you start to see a young goalkeeper grow up which is impressive and you know he’s come up big in penalty kicks twice in a row so [I’m] very happy for him, could’ve kicked the ball a little better more consistently, yes, but I get on him still because I want more, I’m greedy, but happy for him, great win for the team, and he did a great job.”
Robles said of McCarthy, “John is a young goalkeeper, that has come up though the system and he has done well in his opportunities and I feel like he has a big future ahead of him.”