The Philadelphia Union will continue their quest for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Saturday night when they take on the New York Red Bulls at Talen Energy Stadium.
The Union opened their campaign last week when they kicked the Richmond Kickers out of tournament. The Union handily defeated the United Soccer League team 5-0 using mostly a “B” team lineup. But they can no longer look to beating up a lower division club. Their Round of 16 opponents will not be a pushover.
In Round 4, NYRB had to take on their “cross town” (in quotes, since NYRB doesn’t actually play in New York) rivals New York City FC, and they beat City handily by a 4-0 score. NYRB may look at the Union as being an easier mark since NYCFC are in second place in the MLS Eastern Conference, while the Union are in their normal position of being just below the playoff red line.
Union head coach Jim Curtin has shown that he takes the U.S. Open Cup seriously with the Boys in Blue making it to the final match in both 2014 and 2015, something that can not be said of his predecessors. The atmosphere within what was then known as PPL Park for the 2014 final was the mostelectric I’ve seen there. With a trophy at stake, the crowd was presented a cracking good match that went into extra time.
After having tasted that, I want more, and I’m sure Curtin does too. I expect to see more “A’ team players that didn’t see the pitch in the Richmond game such as Alejandro Bedoya and Andre Blake. I’m hoping Cory Burke will get the start at the striker position, as C.J. Sapong has been ineffective so far this season.
The Union are fortunate that the draw gave them a home match because the Union just suck on the road. And last year, the Union bowed out of the U.S. Open Cup when they were forced to travel to Red Bull Arena. It doesn’t hurt that this match is the end of a 5-game in 15 days stretch for New York. Red Bull manager Jesse Marsch has been forced to do some player rotation because of this, so who knows who will be in the lineup for them? One thing we do know: Ryan Meara will be the goalkeeper instead of Luis Robles.
With any bit of luck, we’ll see more of this:
The match won’t be on TV, but I assume it would be streamed somewhere. If you don’t trust the stream will be there (and you shouldn’t, given that the entire first half wasn’t streamed last Open Cup match due to technical difficulties), considering attending in person. The tickets are cheap ($15), the weather should be great, and the parking is free. If you can’t make it, Pattison Ave will have your back as we will be there to cover it live.
It’s difficult to predict these Open Cup matches, but one thing I can declare with 100% certainty. One team will walk out a winner. It might go to penalty kicks, but someone has to advance. Since it is a home match, I’ll take an optimistic guess and say Union 2, NYRB 1.
Mike is a South Jersey native and resident who has been a Philadelphia Union fan ever since the team was just a twinkle in the eyes of the Sons Of Ben. He is also a lifelong fan of the Phillies and an Eagles season ticket holder since 1985.