Last year’s U.S. Open Cup was considered a sham. Last year’s tournament was considered a mockery. When Hans Backe came over to the Red Bulls two years ago he said that all Cups mattered. Yet when he refused to take the trip to Chicago in the Quarterfinals last year, it made the supporters very angry.
2012 came around and this time Backe has repeated to the local New York media that he is taking the US Open Cup seriously. Tuesday night he showed that by putting eight regulars in the starting lineup. Heading south, the Red Bulls opponent would be the Charleston Battery in Round 3.
Their last two visits to Blackbaud Stadium on Daniel Island were not pretty, back when they were known as the MetroStars. A 4-1 thrashing in the Second round in 2001 was followed three years later with a one goal loss in the Fourth round. In that match, they had a chance to equalize but Mike Magee hit the crossbar on a penalty.
The 2012 renewal of this fixture saw the Red Bulls score first. The red hot Kenny Cooper got his first of the match and twelfth in all competitions in the 14th minute when Mehdi Ballouchy gave him a good ball from the near side. All Cooper did was turn around and blast it inside the far post for the early one goal lead.
The Red Bulls would go up by two in the final five minutes of the first half. A corner was given in the 41st minute and Mehdi Ballouchy would deliver a low cross to Dax McCarty, who chipped it over the wall. Getting a boot to it was Heath Pearce, and he converted for his first goal as a Red Bull.
All throughout the second half the Battery tried their best to get on the score sheet and make it a game for the Red Bulls. New York’s defense was solid and the return of Wilman Conde made it even better for the visiting side – but they also got a tally to finish the night off.
Academy prospect Connor Lade has been fantastic since he was given an opportunity when Roy Miller picked up an injury against the San Jose Earthquakes. There have been a few games where he has taken long distance shots that nearly went in for goals.
In the 70th minute Lade finally got one into the net. His 30 yard bending blast splashed the upper ninety inside the far corner, and Brock Duckworth couldn’t get a glove on it. A nice pass from Jan Gunnar Solli set up Lade to get a boot on it for one of the highlight goals of the tournament.
Ryan Meara wasn’t that busy on the night, but he made a fantastic point blank save in the 23rd minute with a two handed parry which sent the ball over the crossbar. The rookie from Fordham University continues to have an amazing season.
For the first time in three tries, the Red Bulls finally got the monkey off their backs and defeated the South Carolina side in their own backyard. Now they go back on the road with no leagues games to bother them as they face the Harrisburg City Islanders on June 5 at 7:30 PM.