Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup action returns to Talen Energy Stadium on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Philadelphia Union (7-5-5, 26 points) get set to host Eastern Conference rival New York Red Bulls (7-8-2, 23 points) in the Round of 16.
What you need to know
New York Red Bulls will be seeking revenge come Wednesday night. Following a grueling 1-1 finish in regulation, the Union eliminated the Red Bulls from the U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals last season 4-3 in PK’s.
Despite taking the fifth-fewest shots per game this season, New York is tied for the second most goals-scored in the league with 28. The team’s regular-season offensive dominance certainly didn’t translate in the last round of the Open Cup against the Rochester Rhinos.
The Red Bulls created twice as many scoring opportunities as their USL opponent, but still failed to capitalize on a single shot from the field. Scoring the lone goal of the match on a PK in the 20th minute, New York went on to scrape past the Rhinos in a 1-0 win.
This week’s Round of 16 matchup against Philadelphia will mark the third U.S. Open Cup meeting between the two clubs. It will also offer both teams the opportunity to take control of the split (1-1-0) all-time series lead. While Open Cup results do not affect MLS standings, Wednesday’s matchup should be an exciting opportunity for the top teams in the Eastern Conference to show their teeth.
Players to Watch
Bradley Wright-Phillips, forward: (17 GP, 15 GS, 9g, 2a) Wright-Phillips is the leading scorer for his team this season with nine goals and two assists in total. One thing about Wright-Phillips is that he isn’t fazed by playing away from home. New York’s most dangerous offensive threat has managed to net four of his nine scores on the road this season.
Sacha Kljestan, midfielder: (17 GP, 15 GS, 2g, 10a) A starter in 15 of the 17 Red Bulls matches, Kljestan has found his niche as an offensive orchestrator from the midfield this season. With 10 total assists and six more than anyone else on the roster, Kljestan is the NYRB’s assist leader by a mile. Between his assists and two scores this season, he has facilitated 12 of his team’s 28 total goals. Kljestan also tallied the game-winner, and only goal of the match, over Rochester Rhinos in the previous round of the Open Cup.
Mike Grella, midfielder: (16 GP, 14 GS, 6g, 3a) Grella’s contribution to the Red Bulls this season has come via accounting for the disparity between assist and goal production created by teammates Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips. Grella’s six scores and three assists have made him a more consistent threat in each category as well as a critical component of New York’s offensive attack this year.
Goalkeeper: Luis Robles
Defenders (left to right): Aurélien Collin, Gideon Baah, Justin Bilyeu, Sal Zizzo
Midfielders (left to right): Dax McCarty & Sean Davis (holding); Gonzalo Verón, Sacha Kljestan, and Shaun Wright-Phillips (attacking).
Forward: Bradley Wright-Phillips