Philadelphia Union (6-11-4, 22 points) at New York Red Bulls (8-6-5, 29 points)
What: U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal; When: Tuesday, 4 p.m.
Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.
TV: None Radio: None; Online: https://www.youtube.com/ussoccer
Social: Follow the action via Twitter: @TheUMatchday
It’s around that time in the season where your body begins to wear down and injuries start to become more common. A team’s depth becomes even more vital to their success, often making or breaking a team’s run into the postseason.
The Union will find their depth tested on Tuesday when they travel up I-95 to take on the New York Red Bulls in the quarterfinals of the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. C.J. Sapong, Richie Marquez and Andrew Wenger will all be unavailable for the game due to suspension (Sapong) and injuries (Marquez, Wenger).
“[Without Marquez] A decision will have to be made,” said Jim Curtin. “We have a couple options. Maurice Edu coming back helps, obviously strength in the center part of our defense. We’ll have to make a decision between Ethan White and Steven Vitoria.”
Both Marquez and Wenger were injured in Saturday’s loss at Toronto, with Wenger leaving in the first half with a concussion and Marquez being subbed on in the second half with an ankle injury. Since this is the first Open Cup game for the Union since the game on June 30 against D.C. United, Sapong will be serving his one-game ban for picking up a straight red card in the first half of the match.
Starting goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre remains cup-tied to the Carolina RailHawks which means John McCarthy will start his third Open Cup game of the year.
And though the Union seem to have been bit by the injury bug again, they will take solace in the fact that both Conor Casey and Fernando Aristeguieta will be available to play the role of striker with Sapong out.
“Not having C.J. is big,” Curtin said. “It was a call that kind of went against him, unfortunately, and we tried to appeal that but they didn’t want to hear anything so C.J. will be missed. We have to have the next man up mentality with Conor and Fernando, who are both back now. They’ll both play a significant role in this game.”
While neither forward is fit for 90 minutes of action, both will be ready to able to go for a least half the match, something that could have a larger effect if the game goes into extra time.
Both the Red Bulls and the Union have upcoming games, with the Union playing on Sunday against D.C. United while the Red Bulls play in the International Champions Cup on Wednesday and again in MLS on Sunday. Their opponent on Wednesday is reinging English Premier League champions Chelsea FC, but Curtin expects the Union to face the full strength lineup on Tuesday.
“We’re going to face the full lineup, there’s no doubt about that,” said Curtin. “The Chelsea game means zero. I know Jesse Marsch well. They’re going to play their guys, that’s how we’re preparing and that’s how I expect them to handle it. It’s a major competition in our country and its one I know, being a teammate of [Marsch’s] is one that he takes very seriously.”
In the Union’s last Open Cup game, they managed to avoid going into extra time after scoring two second half goals while down a man to advance past D.C. United. Eric Ayuk scored in the 60th minute off of a cross from Sheanon Williams and Fabinho scored in the 79th minute to give the Union the lead and seal the victory.
The Red Bulls enter Tuesday’s Open Cup game as one of two teams to play a non-MLS side in the round 16. They faced off against the New York Cosmos in Red Bulls Arena on July 1, winning 4-1 with each goal being scored by a different player.
The winner of this game will face the winner of the Orlando City SC-Chicago Fire game which takes place on Wednesday. Should the Union win, they will host the semifinal game sometime in the middle of August.
What do you think is the key to success vs. New York Red Bulls? Leave your comment below.
Contact Union writer Kyle Basedow at email@example.com.