Roland Alberg put home a free kick from the top of the box at the death and the Union escaped City Islanders FC 3-2.
The win put the Union through to the Round of 16 in the US Open Cup, but it didn’t have to be this way as they squandered a 2-0 lead and couldn’t put away an inferior opponent.
Union first XI: McCarthy; Fabinho, Marquez, Tribbett, Gaddis; Creavalle, Nogueira; Restrepo, Alberg, Ilsinho; Herbers
Scant moments after a moment of silence was held for the shooting victims in Orlando and the national anthem was sung, the Union went up 1-0. Walter Restrepo got on the end of a spilled cross by CIFC keeper Nick Noble and pounded it home after a Vincent Nogueira cross found its way into the box, with Fabian Herbers challenging for it. Just six minutes later in the ninth, Ilsinho and Herbers combined to set up Ilsinho for a far post shot that skittered wide. The Brazilian midfielder looked sharp in an hour of duty tonight, which is encouraging for the team going forward. Richie Marquez saw yellow for a crunching tackle in the midfield on former Union man and current Islander forward Aaron Wheeler in the twentieth. Wheeler would spend a large amount of time on the ground during this match, perhaps not undeservedly as he crashed into Union keeper John McCarthy twice in the space of three minutes during the first half, something no team takes well to.
The front four of Ilsinho, Herbers, Alberg, and Restrepo continued to create chances. Alberg to Herbers was just wide. Restrepo had a blast go just over the bar. And in the 45th, the Union cashed in again as a poor Islander turnover was slid over to Alberg by Herbers and Alberg finished it, giving the home side a 2-0 lead going into halftime.
The second half began with a much different tenor as the City Islanders attacked and looked the more dangerous side. McLaws mis-hit a volley that looked like a sure goal. Bolduc forced McCarthy into a great save at the side of the net. Barril hit a rocket that seemed destined for goal but Wheeler (in his finest defensive play involving the Union) inadvertently blocked the shot. The Union went to the bench in the 61st minute, swapping out Ilsinho for Leo Fernandes, while the Islanders made two offensive subs with Foster and Benbow eight minutes later. The Union countered with Carroll for Nogueira in the 73rd minute, and Le Toux on for Herbers in the 77th. Needing two goals to pull even, the City Islanders got the first one when Foster slid one through traffic in the 79th minute and it barely sneaked into the net as McCarthy could only watch. In the 88th minute, CIFC went down to ten men after Jose Barril destroyed Leo Fernandes with a dangerous tackle during a counter.
Surely going down to ten meant the end of CIFC’s upset bids, but they struck on a counter just three minutes later at the beginning of four minutes of stoppage to draw even. Mechanicsburg native Bobby Warshaw drew his home club even with a shot McCarthy had no chance on, and extra time seemed certain. But four minutes is an eternity, and the Union found themselves on the attack when Le Toux was (perhaps dubiously) brought down at the top of the box, leading to a free kick from 20 yards out. Alberg and Fernandes stood over it, and it was Alberg who put the ball into the top left corner of the net, giving the Union a 3-2 lead.
One final gasp by CIFC was snuffed out when they turned the ball over at midfield and sent Le Toux in on keeper Nick Noble one on one, but Noble was up to the task, and referee Sorin Stoica’s whistle soon followed as the Union advanced to the round of 16 in the U.S. Open Cup.
Notes: Referee Sorin Stoica did the Orlando City SC match not long ago which featured a couple questionable goals. He had what I felt was another uneven showing tonight, and is someone I hope the Union can avoid drawing going forward.
-After Union coach Jim Curtin mentioned he didn’t believe in squad rotation, he started normal non-selections McCarthy, Restrepo, Herbers, Gaddis, and Alberg tonight.
-Yes it’s the Open Cup and weird stuff happens, but I’d expect a good team to put away a USL team after going up 2-0. They didn’t.
-Even 60 minutes of Ilsinho would be worthwhile in a match. He’s magical. Often, no one else on the field can do what he does in terms of creating chances and breaking down people.
-The Union’s next match will be a league match this Saturday at 7 PM vs NYCFC in New York.