Sacha Kljestan: “We know it’s a one and done game, so a lot of effort goes into these games.” (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
HARRISON, N.J. – The Red Bulls will try to avoid a rather dubious hat-trick Wednesday night, when they host the Philadelphia Union in a Round of 16 match of the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup at Red Bull Arena.
Philly has shown the Red Bulls the door from the knockout competition the past two years and the team cannot afford a third elimination from its rivals.
New York realized that it needs to bounce back quickly after suffering a 2-0 home defeat to Hudson River Derby rival New York City FC Saturday.
“They’ve knocked us out of the Open Cup the last couple of years,” Red Bulls captain and midfielder Sacha Kljestan said. “So, we’ve put ourselves in a position to play at home, to try and move on to the next round. We know it’s a one and done game, so a lot of effort goes into these games.
“We know it’s going to be tough, but I think we just got to try to remember how we played against Philly down there, what we did, better passing, better in the attacking third, more creative, try to get more goals out of ourselves right now.”
At RBA in 2015, the teams battled to a 1-1 draw as the Union advanced by winning the shootout, 4-3.
In Chester, Pa. in 2016, the Red Bulls endured a second-half meltdown, losing the lead as Chris Pontius tallied twice in a 2-1 result.
In 2017, the game kicks off at 7 p.m. ET (coverage on NewYorkRedBulls.com and Red Bulls Radio on Tunein).
The Red Bulls’ big problem this season has been trying to find the back of the net. They have scored a paltry 17 in as many league matches.
Head coach Jesse Marsch said that he is not going to change the team’s pressing style.
“We’re not changing that,” he said. “We’re not changing it. The question is how good can we be at what we do?”
The match will be the third time this season that both teams will faceoff, the first time at RBA. Philadelphia won the first match, 3-0, May 6 as C.J. Sapong’s hat-trick led the Union. New York avenged the loss with a 2-0 win, 10 days ago, as Bradley Wright-Phillips scored twice in the last five minutes. All five goals scored between the two teams have come in the 74th minute or later.
The Red Bulls advanced to this round after defeating NYCFC, 1-0, at home June 14. Daniel Royer scored in the 67th minute to push New York to the Round of 16 for the third consecutive season. The Red Bulls earned the right to host when the East Region draw was determined by U.S. Soccer.
For the second successive year, Philadelphia advanced to the Round of 16 after defeating Harrisburg City Islanders. The Union defeated the Islanders, 3-0 as Sapong, Derrick Jones and Marcus Epps found the back of the net. Philadelphia has reached the Open Cup finals two of the last three seasons.
The Red Bulls return to MLS action at the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium Wednesday, July 5 at 7:30 p.m.