Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Union move on in U.S. Open Cup

Chester, Pa. - The  Philadelphia Union defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders, 5-2, in Tuesday's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal at PPL Park. Harrisburg cut a 3-0 deficit to 3-2 with two early second-half goals, but the Union pulled away late to advance to the semifinals.

The Union move on to face Sporting Kansas City at PPL Park on July 11, with kickoff at 7:30 p.m. The club is now two wins away from its first ever U.S. Open Cup title and is the first Pennsylvania-based team to reach the semifinals since United German Hungarians in 1993.

Freddy Adu netted the first goal of the game in the sixth minute on a penalty kick after Harrisburg’s Stephen Basso handled a Lionard Pajoy cross in the box. Basso was also hurt on the play, leaving the game with Union 2012 supplemental draft pick Tom Brandt coming on in his place.

Three minutes later, Philadelphia took advantage of another defensive mistake when Dustin Bixler’s header fell in the path of a streaking Jack McInerney, whose finish put the Union up by a pair of goals.

In the 29th minute, the Union extended the margin to 3-0 as Pajoy collected a well-placed cross from left back Gabriel Farfan and finished easily.

But even after looking completely overwhelmed in the first half, Harrisburg stormed back. In the 52nd and 54th minutes, Brian Ombiji and Morgan Langley scored back-to-back goals, with forward Yann Ekra assisting on both.

Langley, who played for Philly at the end of the 2011 season, was one of three ex-Union players on the field for Tuesday’s game. The others were Brandt and J.T. Noone, who was on the Union roster throughout their expansion season in 2010.

The Union served up a convincing response, however, when—for the second straight game—substitute Antoine Hoppenot drew a foul in the box and Pajoy buried the penalty. The red-hot rookie also scored the game-winner against D.C. United in the Union’s last US Open Cup win.

Another second-half substitute, Gabriel Gomez, completed the scoring with an 81st-minute chip over Harrisburg goalkeeper Nick Noble. Gomez was making his first appearance since May 19, when he was hurt in Philly’s 1-1 draw with FC Dallas.

Before continuing their US Open Cup run, the Union face back-to-back road matches against Houston on Saturday and the LA Galaxy on July 4.
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