Union

Union rally for Open Cup win in Curtin's debut

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Union rally for Open Cup win in Curtin's debut

CHESTER, Pa. -- It took two extra time sessions, but Andrew Wenger and the Union took down their USL Pro affiliate Harrisburg City Islanders, 3-1, in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night at PPL Park.

Capitalizing on a turnover in the midfield, Sebastien Le Toux pushed the ball forward to Wenger in the box. The Lancaster native’s shot deflected off a defender and past Brian Sylvestre for the game-winner in the 110th minute.

Wenger added a second in the 117th minute to seal the victory for the Union.

The Union, 3-7-6 in their MLS season, advance to face the New York Cosmos on June 24 at PPL Park, in the fifth round of the tournament. Playing out of the NASL, the Cosmos are coming off a 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls.

The situation was getting dire for the Union in the 89th minute, until Maurice Edu broke the stout City Islanders’ defense to give the Union some much-needed life. Uncovered in the middle of the box, Edu accepted a pass from Le Toux. Gaining possession, Edu fired a quick shot that cleanly beat Sylvestre, sending the contest to extra time, 1-1.

When Jim Curtin was introduced as the new head coach of the Union last Tuesday, he made it clear his club would take its upcoming U.S. Open Cup match, “very seriously,” as a chance for redemption in what has been a disastrous 2014.

It was Curtin's first win as manager of the Union.

Because of this, the Union didn’t permit the City Islanders to use loaned Union players Jimmy McLaughlin and Richie Marquez, while they started Edu, Vincent Nogueira and Cristian Maidana, among other everyday starters.

The Union’s first flurry into Open Cup play didn’t treat them differently than any of their 16 MLS matches. Curtin’s club held massive pressure against its opposition but was unable to create anything dangerous in the final third. This was a trend throughout the contest.

The Union earned 19 corners but were unable to capitalize. Sylvestre, who was the City Islanders’ best player, made 12 saves in the losing effort.

The Union paid for their inability to finish in the 38th minute, when a corner from City Islanders’ midfielder Danny Diprima was cleanly headed on net by Coady Andrews. Union rookie goalkeeper Andre Blake, making his first career professional start, made the initial save but the rebound came out to Jason Pelletier, who made no mistake, firing it in for the 1-0 City Islanders lead.

Union's season ends with loss to NYCFC in MLS knockout round

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Union's season ends with loss to NYCFC in MLS knockout round

BOX SCORE

After suffering a lopsided defeat to NYCFC in the season finale at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, the Union marched back up to the Bronx on Wednesday night and did it again, falling, 3-1, in the knockout round of the 2018 MLS Playoffs to end their season.

• It was the fourth playoff match in franchise history for the Union and also their fourth loss. The club has yet to win a playoff game in its nine-year history. NYCFC moves on to face Atlanta United in a home-and-home aggregate series. 

• Union manager Jim Curtin put his fingerprint on the playoff match by slotting Alejandro Bedoya in at his natural right attacking midfield side, while tapping veteran Warren Creavalle to break up the middle of the field next to Haris Medunjanin. 

• It was a creative idea that ultimately failed to impact the match. Creavalle was pulled for Ilsinho at the half as the Union pushed for a more sustained offense. It took a while but paid off in the 83rd minute, when Ilsinho found Burke for the cross and tap-in goal to make it 3-1. 

• Before that, though, off a Mark McKenzie turnover in the 10th minute, NYCFC opened the scoring on a beautiful play. A Maxi Moralez pass found Ismael Tajouri-Shradi for the half bounce rocket to beat Andre Blake and claim the 1-0 NYCFC lead. David Villa doubled the NYCFC lead in the 26th minute. 

• The Union appeared to gain traction late in the first half when Bedoya was de-cleated in the box. It should have been a penalty kick but somehow went uncalled. It was that kind of night. The Union finished the first half with no shots on goal and just two in the second. 

• It didn’t get much better in the second half. As the Union pressed, Moralez chipped Blake on a fast break for the 3-0 lead. The Union were thoroughly outclassed all match long and especially struggled to generate offensive chances.

• The sting of defeat in important matches is a familiar one for the Union, who have lost four playoff matches and three U.S. Open Cup finals in the club’s history. Wednesday wasn’t even the most painful of the season, as the Union were crushed in Houston against the non-playoff Dynamo, 3-0, in the Open Cup finals back in September.

• But despite the disappointment, it was still a record season for the 2018 Union, who claimed the franchise record in total points, wins and road wins. Midfielder Borek Dockal took the MLS assist crown and young defenders McKenzie and Auston Trusty made names for themselves. Things have been worse for the Union.

Union lose at NYFC in regular season finale with playoff seeding on line

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USA Today Images

Union lose at NYFC in regular season finale with playoff seeding on line

BOX SCORE 

NEW YORK — David Villa scored his 14th goal of the season and New York City FC beat the Philadelphia Union 3-1 on Sunday to clinch the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

NYCFC (16-10-8) won for just the second time in its last 10 matches, with five loses, averaging just 0.9 goals per game. Philadelphia (15-14-5) has lost five of its nine matches against NYCFC.

Either team could have secured the top-three seed with a victory.

NYCFC had a 2-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes on Maxime Chanot's first goal of the season and Auston Trusty's own goal. Villa made it 3-1 in the 34th.

Cory Burke pulled Philadelphia within 2-1 in the 14th. C.J. Sapong was fouled inside the penalty area in the 59th, but NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson denied Fafa Picault's penalty shot, diving to his right to block the low attempt.