This Week’s Union Recap
Even with all the World Cup action, I still found time to watch the Union vs Red Bulls US Open Cup match on Saturday. Below are my thoughts from the match.
The Union came out with a very strong lineup including many starters and one or two first choice backups. The U were able to do this given they did not have a midweek MLS game unlike most other teams, including the Red Bulls. The Red Bulls fielded a semi-strong lineup that included some starters mixed with a few backups.
Given the lineup choices, I favored the Union to win, especially playing at home. The crowd certainly wasn’t much of a help to the Union as it looked like there were about 5K people at the game max. Even by Open Cup standards, it was pretty poor for a round of 16 match against a supposed rival on a Saturday night.
Red Bulls came out and were a bit physical in the first half. I also noticed that quite a few Union players were diving or at the very least embellishing contact, which wasn’t great to see. That fortunately subsided as the match went on but it’s still something I don’t like to see. Most of the time, it’s obvious when a player embellishes, and it only plants a seed in the ref’s mind when there may be a foul later in the match to not give the embellished player the foul. Hope this was just a one-off situation and not something we continue seeing from the team.
The Union created many chances throughout the half and Corey Burke didn’t hit the net on 2 clear cut chances that he really should have scored. The half ended 0-0 with the Union the better side throughout.
The second half started with the Red Bulls getting a glorious chance that Kemar Lawrence blasted straight at Andre Blake. Blake was able to get a slight deflection that sent the shot onto the bar. A few minutes later, Haris Medunjanin collected the ball just outside the top of the box. He did a really nifty move to shift the ball quickly from his left foot to his right foot, then back to his left. That created space for Haris to unleash a thunderbolt of a shot that sailed into the upper 90 on the far post. 1-0 Union.
The Union continued to be the better side as less than 10 minutes later, Alejandro Bedoya played a great through ball to a wide-open Corey Burke in the middle of New York’s defense. Third time was the charm for Burke, as he beat Robles one on one to make it 2-0 Union.
Wright-Phillips got a goal for Red Bulls with about 15 minutes to play, which made for a nervy finish. Andre Blake was called upon late to save a Kaku effort that was destined to tie the match. Fortunately, the Union were able to hold on and advance to the quarterfinals.
The Boys in Blue are still searching for their first ever silverware at the first team level and I think the Open Cup is a great opportunity to win that. The competition holds a special place in my heart as I watched in person as the Union heartbreakingly lost back to back finals a few years ago.
I sincerely hope this is the year they win that first trophy. And with a cup competition, anything is possible. They only need 3 more wins to lift the cup and I’ll definitely keep you updated on their progress. Thanks for reading & I’ll talk to you next week.
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