Lewis Morgan scored the Red Bulls’ first goal. (USA TODAY Sports)
No doubt that the Red Bulls’ 2-1 win over Hartford Athletic in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup was a game of two halves.
In the opening 45 minutes on Wednesday night, the Red Bulls dominated and then some. They outshot the hosts, 20-0, to grab a two-goal lead.
In the second half, however, Hartford made the visitors sweat, trying for the equalizer in the third-round encounter at Dillon Stadium in Hartford, Conn.
The Red Bulls are 16-8-0 in their opening round matches of the Open Cup in history, including 4-1-0 in their last five games. They are 4-0-0 on the road across all competitions this year, outscoring their foes, 10-3.
Lewis Morgan and Aaron Long scored within a seven-minute span in the first half.
“It was something we spoke about – having a fast start especially the opposition today,” Morgan said. “Obviously, they are playing a league above themselves. They want to impress themselves and impose themselves in the game. We knew they were going to start quick and we know that we had to come out fighting.”
Long, the team captain, won the ball with a header at midfield. Luquinhas worked it to Morgan, who drilled a shot past goalkeeper James Slayton from the top of the box in the 18th minute.
An unmarked Long had an easy tap-in after a Slayton diving save in the 25th minute.
“I think especially first half we can see the big difference between an MLS team like us and Hartford,” Red Bulls head coach Gerhard Struber said.
Buoyed by three halftime substitutes, Hartford made a game of it as sub Conor McGlynn drilled a shot from the top of the area off Danny Barrera’s free kick to cut the lead in half past goalkeeper Ryan Meara into the bottom left corner in the 52nd minute.
“Teams are always going to have spells in games and obviously, we do not like to give up goals in the set piece the way,” Morgan said.
“In the final 45 minutes you can see that they let everything on the field,” Struber said. “They will sometimes also a little bit dirty. I think one or the other boys they lose a little bit the mind and lose a little bit of focus in our typical style of play.”
Red Bulls midfielder Cristian Casseres, Jr. was red carded for violent conduct five minutes into second-half injury time.
The fourth-round draw will be held Thursday at noon.
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