Soccer News of Thursday, 23 July 2015
Lloyd Sam went from hero to zero in a thrilling US Open Cup quarter-final as New York Red Bulls were eliminated by Philadelphia Union.
There was little to separate the two Major League Soccer sides, who played out a 1-1 draw in normal time and extra time, before the Union emerged victorious during a tense 4-3 penalty shootout victory.
In truth, Sam and his teammates should have had the contest wrapped up long before the end of 90 minutes, and will surely rue their inability to have secured progression to the final four.
The Red Bulls—who currently sit third in the Eastern Conference—enjoyed the lion’s share of possession during the first period, and would have had a hatful of goals had their finishing been less profligate.
Sam himself had a wonderful chance to open the scoring on 18 minutes, only to be thwarted by Philadelphia stopper John McCarthy.
The dismissal of Conor Casey at the end of the first half helped Jesse Marsch’s side taken an even stronger strangle-hold on the contest.
The New York heavyweights looked to have paid the price for their wastefulness on 55 minutes, when a moment of magic from Vincent Nogueira opened the door for Eric Ayuk. The Cameroonian wideman made little mistake, finding himself one-on-one with Luis Robles, and sent a fine shot past the stranded guardsman.
NYRB pushed forward for an equaliser, and eventually found it through Sam, who received a header from Mike Grella on the opposite flank and beat his nemesis McCarthy after a calm touch and finish.
During extra time, the rhythm of the first-period returned, with NYRB enjoying dominance both of possession and chances.
However, they were unable to find a second, and the match went to penalties.
This time, it was McCarthy who had the last laugh.
The Union goalkeeper saved from Sam, following a miss from Red Bulls hotshot Bradley Wright-Phillips, leaving Fernando Aristeguieta to convert the winning spotkick for the visitors.
Jim Curtin’s side now advance to the semi-final, where they will meet either David Accam’s Chicago Fire or Kaka’s Orlando City Soccer Club.