The Philadelphia Union used a U.S. Open Cup run last year, when they made it to the final, to energize their season. On Wednesday the Union seemed to channel the spirit of 2014 and rallied for a 2-1 win over to D.C. United to advance to the quarterfinals.
The U.S. Open Cup is often full of twists and turns and Tuesday offered another example. Mother Nature wreaked havoc on the playing conditions in the first 14 minutes of the match before lightning forced a stoppage in play.
After play resumed, the Union was reduced to ten men when C.J. Sapong was given a red card for an elbow to the face of United defender Kofi Opare in the 24th minute. Three minutes later United opened the scoring on a goal by Jairo Arrieta that was started by a dangerous Miguel Aguilar cross from the right flank.
Despite conceding a quick goal after the red card, the loss of Sapong only seemed to spur the Union. From the 35th minute to the 40th minute the Union consistently pressured and United was satisfied to reach the break up 1-0. The Union’s pressure paid off in the second half with goals from Eric Ayuk Mbu in the 56th minute and Fabinho in the 79th minute.
There is little time for D.C. United to lament the lost Cup opportunity Tuesday in Philadelphia. There is first place to protect in the Eastern Conference and that continues with league play on Friday in Seattle. Later this summer there is another trophy to chase with the start of CONCACAF Champions League play.
- No excuses. Balancing the needs of the league schedule, United’s starting lineup featured from back to front Dykstra, Mishu, Birnbaum, Opare, Robinson, Doyle, Jeffrey, Halsti, Aguilar, Coria, and Arrieta. It might not have been United’s first choice lineup, but on a team that has used 19 starting lineups in 20 MLS matches the first eleven had enough talent and experience to succeed.
- Aguilar best player. D.C. United continues to build a strong foundation through the MLS SuperDraft. This year’s first round pick midfielder Miguel Aguilar is getting better with each game. On Tuesday in Philadelphia was dangerous on his runs, especially in the first half, and was crafty in the final third.
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