The last 20 minutes of this 120 minute affair will go down in the annals of Philadelphia Union lore as one of the wildest in history.
The Union, already no stranger to intense moments in U.S. Open Cup play can add a 2-1 extra time win against the visiting New York Cosmos to the list after a game winning penalty kick from Sebastien Le Toux spilled an apparent powder keg of emotion onto the pitch at PPL Park Tuesday night.
When the dust settled, five red cards were issued two of which were to members of the Cosmos coaching staff, handed early exits in addition to players Jimmy Ockford, Ayoze and Union midfielder Michael Lahoud.
The positive is that the Union once again came from behind and pulled off a dramatic victory increasing its unbeaten streak to four in all competitions and keeping interim coach Jim Curtin pristine at 2-0 since taking over the club two weeks prior. With that said, the Union now move on to quarterfinal play for the second time in its five-year history. The club will face the winner between the New England Revolution and the Rochester Rhinos. That match will be held once again at PPL Park on July 8 (7 p.m., purchase tickets).
“This club needs a trophy and now we’re three wins away from a trophy, which is a big thing,” Curtin said postgame. “The front office and ownership did a great job getting us home games, if you look through the history of this competition the team that plays at home usually is the one that comes through. Obviously [D.C. United] last year would be the exception but Seattle all the years they won it, and Chicago when they would win it, it was only because they hosted home games. Now we’ll have a home game next game against either New England or Rochester, it’s a great advantage, and huge opportunity. Three wins in a row and you’re a champion. There are two trophies in this country that you can win and want to lift the Open Cup.”
It was the Cosmos that got on the board first in the 56th minute after forward Alessandro Nocelli took a pass in stride from Danny Szetela and chipped it over goalkeeper Andre Blake. Less than 30 seconds later however, it was Le Toux with his sixth goal of the season in all matches for the Union calmly finishing off a low-driven ball across the six-yard-box from Andrew Wenger. Wenger’s ball was well-timed and well-placed as it skipped past the outstretched arms of Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer.
Le Toux would end the affair in the 113th minute, when Ockford took down Union midfielder turned defender Maurice Edu in the box. Le Toux made no mistake and converted the penalty kick, making it a perfect 10-for-10 in kicks from the spot in his career with the Union. Also Le Toux is also tied in the modern era of the competition with the most goals with 13.
“I like this competition,” said Le Toux. It was a time when I was in Seattle and the USL – twice I finished with I think six goals. It was funny because in one game I just got four. It is fun, I was just talking about it with Andrew [Wenger], he already scored two, so he should score again and maybe become the best scorer of this competition. He came to me and said we are now tied, so it’s good competition between us too. We have continuity and are now three games away from the final, it would be great to get the trophy this year.”
According to the stat sheet this one ended with the Union holding edge in shots (9-3) and shots on goal (4-1). Both goal keepers accounted for two saves apiece and both teams also had an astonishing 12 corner kicks apiece.
The Union will now focus energies on New England in a return to MLS action this Saturday. The Union will look to climb out of the dregs of the Eastern Conference against one of the East’s best teams at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro (7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
Philadelphia Union 2, New York Cosmos 1 (a.e.t.)
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fifth round
Tuesday, June 24, 2014; PPL Park, Chester, Pa.
NYC: 56’ Noselli (Szetela)
PHI: 57’ Le Toux (Wenger)
NYC: 113’ Le Toux (penalty kick)
PHI: 21’ Carroll (caution)
PHI: 29’ Cruz (caution)
PHI: 67’ Fabinho (caution)
NYC: 105’ Ockford (ejection)
NYC: 111’ Noselli (caution)
NYC: 113’ Maurer (caution)
NYC: 118’ Ayoze (ejection)
PHI: 118’ Lahoud (ejection)
PHILADELPHIA UNION STARTING XI
Andre Blake, Fabinho, Maurice Edu, Raymon Gaddis, Sheanon Williams, Brian Carroll, Danny Cruz (Fernandes, 60), Cristian Maidana (Lahoud, 115’), Amobi Okugo, Sebastien Le Toux, Andrew Wenger (Hoppenot, 77).
NEW YORK COSMOS STARTING XI
Jimmy Maurer, Hunter Freeman, Carlos Mendes, Roversio, Ayoze, Joseph Nane (Murphy 38’), Danny Szetela, Hagop Chirishian (Johnson 60’), Sebastian Guzenatti, Mads Stokkelien, Alessandro Noselli.