Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz
For the second straight week, Philadelphia Union needed extra time to secure a US Open Cup victory, this time defeating the New York Cosmos 2-1 in a hotly contested Tuesday night match at PPL Park.
Sebastien Le Toux scored his second goal of the match from the penalty spot in the 113th minute to secure the victory. With the goal, his 13th in US Open Cup play, Le Toux joins David Bulow, Johnny Menyongar, and Jaime Moreno at the top of the US Open Cup goalscorers list in the modern pro era.
“It was good,” Le Toux said of the penalty kick goal. “I was very confident, so I’m glad it went in. I’m just glad we won tonight.”
Le Toux’s scored his first goal of the night in the 56th minute, tapping in an Andrew Wenger cross from close range only moments after Alessandro Noselli opened the scoring for the Cosmos.
“I like this competition,” said Le Toux. “It is fun. I was just talking about it with Andrew [Wenger], he already scored two, so he should score again and maybe become the best scorer of this competition. He came to me and said we are now tied, so it’s good competition between us too. We have continuity and are now three games away from the final, it would be great to get the trophy this year.”
Jim Curtin made one change to the team that outlasted Harrisburg City Islanders last Tuesday, with Amobi Okugo replacing Michael Lahoud as a second holding midfielder alongside Brian Carroll.
The Cosmos started brightly with Mads Stokkelien latching onto a ball in the Union box in just the 3rd minute. Alessandro Noselli was arriving on a late run, but the ball ran under the striker’s foot to be cleared away by the Union.
Philadelphia would have an early chance of their own in the 10th minute when a Cristian Maidana corner kick was flicked on by Okugo at the near post before being guided over the crossbar by Sebastien Le Toux at the far post.
New York would threaten on a set piece of their own on 18 minutes when Roversio was able to latch on to a long, looping corner, but his far post header glanced just wide of Andre Blake’s goal.
The best chance of the first half would fall to Andrew Wenger in the 24th minute. Cosmos’ center backs Roversio and Carlos Mendes made a mess of a long ball over the top, and it fell to Wenger with only goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer to beat. But the Union No. 9 flubbed his shot, and it flew wide left of goal.
In the 41st minute, Wenger did well to pick out Maidana on the left side of the Cosmos’ box. The Argentine’s low shot was beaten away by Maurer but fell straight into the path of Okugo at the top of the box. But Okugo’s left-footed shot was deflected and rolled harmlessly wide of the New York goal for a Union corner.
The Union would get one more chance before the end of the half, with center back Maurice Edu doing well to win the ball 40 yards from New York’s goal. Edu played a quick one-two pass with Danny Cruz on the edge of the Cosmos’ area, but his low cross was punched away by Maurer.
The Union started the second half on the front foot and had a chance within a minute of the restart. A cross from Danny Cruz on the right found its way to Wenger 7 yards from the New York goal. But with a chance to turn and shoot, the big striker tried to lay the ball off to Sebastien Le Toux and the move was cut out.
Next up would be Maidana with a chance after a Sheanon Williams long throw was only half cleared. But the midfielder’s powerful header was well saved by Mauer.
It would be New York that finally opened the scoring in the 56th minute. Brian Carroll was unable to win a 50-50 challenge with Danny Szetela 30 yards from the Union goal. Szetela was able to settle the ball and pick out a nice diagonal pass behind Fabinho to Noselli, who calmly flipped the ball over the onrushing Andre Blake.
The Comos’ lead would be short-lived, with the Union answering back just a minute later. Andrew Wenger did well to beat two New York defenders on the right side and fire in a low cross. Maurer was late coming for the ball, and it skidded by him for Le Toux to tap in from six yards.
Wenger would have another chance to get in on the scoring himself in the 57th minute. Fabinho found acres of space down the left side and fired in a great cross, but Wenger could only head wide of Maurer’s goal from close range.
The last chance for a Union winner in normal time came when Fabinho lofted a cross to New York’s back post that was headed down by substitute Leo Fernandes into the path of Okugo. When it seemed that the Union midfielder must score, a last second challenge from a Cosmos’ defender deflected the shot behind for a corner.
New York would have a huge shout for a penalty in the first period of extra time. Mads Stokkelien appeared to be barged into from behind by Edu as the two chased a bouncing ball into the Union box, but referee Ismail Elfath waved to play on.
In a match where it never seemed that Elfath had complete control, the wheels completely came off in extra time. It started when New York Cosmos’ coach Carlos Llomosa was given his marching orders in the 105th minute, shortly after the no call on the penalty kick.
Next in the book would be New York’s Alessandro Noselli, who took out Andre Blake’s leg as the Union goalkeeper tried to punt the ball, earning a yellow card. The foul drew a strong reaction from the Union, with Sheanon Williams chasing Noselli to give him a shove in the back.
In the 113th minute, Cosmos substitute center back Jimmy Ockford was called for what would be a crucial penalty kick. When Williams launched a throw in into the box, Ockford simply wrestled Edu to the turf. Though a number of calls seemed to go against the Cosmos on the night, the penalty was straightforward and the correct call.
Le Toux stepped up to take the kick and put a perfect shot into the lower left corner beyond the outstretched Maurer. Maurer was given a yellow card for dissent before the kick was taken, and New York assistant coach Alecko Eskandarian was sent to the locker room right after.
The match got completely out of hand in the 118th minute when Antoine Hoppenot tried to hold the ball in the corner to kill time, only to be fouled by the Cosmos’ Ayoze. Ayoze appeared to kick out at the ball and hit Hoppenot as he laid on the pitch, drawing a strong reaction from both the Union striker and substitute Michael Lahoud, who was only the pitch for about a minute before the melee. Lahoud and Ayoze almost came to punches before being separated, and both would be red-carded, as would New York’s Jimmy Ockford, who joined the coming together late.
Union fans had their hearts in their mouths when Andre Blake fumbled a late New York shot from distance, but the ensuing corner came to nothing and Philadelphia would hold on for the 2-1 win.
“This club needs a trophy, and now we’re three wins away from a trophy, which is a big thing,” said interim head coach Jim Curtin after the game. “Now we’ll have a home game next game against either New England or Rochester, it’s a great advantage, and huge opportunity. Three wins in a row and you’re a champion. There are two trophies in this country that you can win and want to lift the Open Cup.”
The Union will face the winner of Wednesday night’s Rhinos-Revolution match at PPL Park in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup on July 8.
Andre Blake, Raymon Gaddis, Maurice Edu, Sheanon Williams, Fabinho, Danny Cruz (Leo Fernandes 60′), Amobi Okugo, Brian Carroll, Cristian Maidana (Michael Lahoud 115′), Sebastien Le Toux, Andrew Wenger (Antoine Hoppenot 77′)
New York Cosmos
Jimmy Maurer, Ayoze, Carlos Mendes, Hunter Freeman, Roversio (Jimmy Ockford 103′), Daniel Szetela, Hagop Chirishian (Jemal Johnson 60′), Joseph Nane (Dane Murphy 38′), Mads Stokkelien, Alessandro Noselli, Sebastian Guenzatti
NYC: 56’ Noselli (Szetela)
PHI: 57’ Le Toux (Wenger)
PHI: 113’ Le Toux (penalty kick)
PHI: 21’ Carroll (caution)
PHI: 29’ Cruz (caution)
PHI: 67’ Fabinho (caution)
NYC: 111’ Noselli (caution)
NYC: 113’ Maurer (caution)
NYC: 118’ Ayoze (ejection)
PHI: 118’ Lahoud (ejection)
NYC: 119′ Ockford (ejection)
Match stats (PHI / NYC)
Shots: 9 / 2
Shots on Target: 4 / 1
Corners: 12 / 12
Fouls: 15 / 5