John McCarthy

Gutty 10-man Union continue Open Cup prowess with shootout win over RBNY

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The Philadelphia Union’s quest for its first Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title is two wins away, while New York Red Bulls’ first title is at best a year away after the two sides went to extra time in Tuesday’s quarterfinal at Red Bull Arena.

Philadelphia, last year’s runner-up, looked to have a leg up despite being a man down, as Eric Ayuk scored for the second consecutive round (and gave a heck of an acrobatic celebration) to give the 10-man Union a 1-0 lead.

[ MORE: Previewing the Gold Cup semifinals ]

The Union came within moments of successfully defending the lead and Conor Casey’s red card for cleating the back of RBNY back Connor Lade. But Matt Miazga’s header fell for Lloyd Sam, who swept the ball home for close range for a stoppage time equalizer.

New York, of course, would control play as extra time moved forward, but couldn’t find the winner against Philly’s weary 10 men. Goalkeeper John McCarthy had a lot to do with that, as did Manolo Sanchez’s shot off the left post. When Bradley Wright-Phillips¬†was offside on his 120th minute header, kicks felt inevitable.

BWP’s penalty kick trouble continued, as he blasted the first offering of the shootout off the bar. The next five shots went in, and then McCarthy stopped Sam… barely. He slapped the ball and collected it before it could cross the line.

But Luis Robles stopped Fred on the next shot to keep it 3-2. After Sacha Kljestan netted to make it 3-3, but Fernando Aristeguieta won it with the next opportunity.

Freak double injury suddenly puts Rais Mbolhi back in pole position to start for Philadelphia

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This is shaping up like a movie with the Philadelphia Union. Buckle up.

A pair of training ground injuries for two of Philadelphia’s goalkeepers in the same day has shockingly taken Rais Mbolhi from first-team fringe to the starter’s spot.

Both Andre Blake and the current starter John McCarthy suffered injuries in training minutes (maybe even seconds) apart that will keep them out for the foreseeable future. Blake’s is more serious, and it could see him sidelined for significant time after already missing much of the preseason and start to the regular season. Philly writer Dave Zeitlin has the full story:

Brutal stuff. For now the Algerian is all of a sudden thrust back into the starting role for this weekend’s long road trip to Vancouver it would seem. The Union will likely make a move of some sort to secure a backup or maybe even a starter should they really wish not to start Mbolhi. Manager Jim Curtin after the training session would not officially dub Mbolhi the starter, joking instead that it could be “any goalkeeper in the USA.”

“I’ve never seen two goalkeepers get hurt in the same season, let alone within 45 seconds of each other,” Curtin said of the situation.

Mbolhi started the first five games of the season for the Union, three losses and two draws, and was absolutely horrid in net, making critical errors that led directly to goals. Just yesterday he was welcomed back to training after taking a month sabbatical to “clear his head.” That month off led many to believe he would be sent away on a permanent basis, but here he is, come to the rescue.

Now Union fans will be hoping his month off will help him recapture the form he displayed during the 2014 World Cup for Algeria, during which he helped his country pull off some stunning group-stage displays against Russia and South Korea that earned the Fennec Foxes a place in the knockout round, where he performed well in a 2-1 loss to Germany.

For Blake, it would appear he is out for approximately the same amount of time his earlier injury took, which would sideline him for another 4-6 weeks. The most recent torn meniscus is in his right knee, while it was his left that was injured in February. He will require surgery. Also, midfielder Michael Lahoud has been ruled out for 4-6 weeks with a hip flexor injury.