Connect with us

Brotherly Game

Philadelphia Union eliminated from U.S. Open Cup by Minnesota United



The Philadelphia Union were eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night, in a penalty shootout loss against Minnesota United. The loss was the club’s only match of this year’s tournament, which continues a recent trend of struggles for the Union in the contest.

Two goals from Kai Wagner kept the Union alive late in the match, but the leftback ultimately ended the Union’s hopes with a penalty miss in the shootout.

Head coach Jim Curtin debuted an ambitiously rotated lineup against Minnesota, starting seven players against the Loons that did not make the starting lineup against the New York Red Bulls the Saturday prior.

The opening half of the match was exactly what Eagles fans think all soccer looks like. Neither team got any remarkable looks on goal; a shot from Joseph Rosales that went just wide of the net was the best shot of the half. Instead, the opening 45 minutes were highlighted by weak yellow cards to Robin Lod and Damion Lowe.

Play improved in the second half, as Philadelphia tried to avoid extra time in its third match in the course of a week. Joaquin Torres highlighted the Union’s early efforts, putting together a good chance in the 63rd minute and creating a challenging shot from a free kick that forced Clint Irwin into a full stretch to avoid the goal.

Despite Philadelphia’s best efforts, it was Minnesota that struck first. Bongokuhle Hlongwane, who entered the game in the 62nd minute, placed a header past Andre Blake in the 68th minute, scoring on his team’s first shot on goal of the night.

Moments later, Minnesota doubled the scoreline. Hlongwane cut up the Union defense through the penalty area and laid the ball off to Rosales, who finished the effort with a quick strike past Blake. En route to his assist, Hlongwane beat Lowe, Andres Perea, and Jesus Bueno in the box.

Just as it appeared that the Union may give up, Chris Donovan stepped up as an unlikely hero. The former Drexel forward followed a luckily placed ball into the penalty area, and quickly placed it past Irwin to bring the score to 2-1 in the 78th minute.

Philadelphia continued to push, aided by the efforts of Daniel Gazdag, who had entered the match in the 65th minute. Just as it appeared that the Union were certainly eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup, Kai Wagner saved the day. After entering the match in the 87th minute, Wagner scored the game’s tying goal stoppage time of the second half to force extra time.

Minnesota played the more aggressive style of soccer in extra time, but both sides were hesitant to open up much in the do-or-die situation. That style benefitted the Loons, who scored their third goal in the 103rd minute with Hlongwane’s second goal of the match as he continued to light up the Union defense.

Hlongwane nearly cut ended the Union’s hopes in the 110th minute of play, as he turned down the right-hand sideline towards a nearly open field. However, Hlongwane was cut down by Jack Elliott, who elected to take a yellow card instead of giving up a potentially tournament-ending goal.

A similar situation arose in the 116th minute, when Matt Real narrowly avoided receiving a red card for cheap tackle on Cameron Dunbar at the edge of the box. The ensuing free kick by Rosales forced an impressive save from Blake, who kept the Union in the match with four minutes remaining in the match.

Once again, as the clock ticked down, Wagner stepped up. After Nate Harriel drew a foul 20 yards from the net, Wagner converted a shot that flew underneath Minnesota’s wall in the 120th minute. Wagner’s kick was the final touch before the game was sent to penalties.

Both teams converted their first two kicks from the mark, but both Arriaga and Real had their shots saved in the third round. When both teams made their fourth and fifth attempts, the game went into sudden death. Neither team could seem to miss, the shootout was tied after seven rounds. But after Minnesota converted its eighth shot, Wagner, twice the hero earlier on the night, had his shot saved to lose the match.

Despite his penalty kick miss, Wagner was the Union’s man of the match. He kept the Union alive twice in the match, and Philadelphia would not have sniffed penalty kicks if not for its leftback substitution.

The Union are out of the U.S. Open Cup, but are back in action on at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 13 in Colorado as they take on the Rapids in MLS play.

Joe is a junior at Penn State studying journalism and sports studies, among other things. He's covered the Union since 2017 and has written for Brotherly Game / Philadelphia Soccer Now since 2019. He seeks to answer life's greatest questions, such as, "How did I get here?" and "Where is that large automobile?" You can find Joe on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email (

Copyright © 2024 Philadelphia Soccer Now and Brotherly Game

Be the First to Know When Philadelphia Soccer News Happens!

Sign-up now to get all of our stories sent directly to your inbox, as soon as they're published.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.