It’s that time of the year for us MLS fans, and fans of US soccer. The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is here again, and the Union have another shot at winning it all!
For starters, this is the 104th year of the U.S. Open Cup. It is the oldest American ongoing soccer competition. It consists of 4 different leagues, starting with MLS, NASL, USL, and amateur clubs. It is a single-elimination tournament, just like any other tournament, with a pretty big chunk of change, if you win which results in $250,000. Also the winner of the tournament, gets an automatic place in CONCACAF Champions League group stage. The Philadelphia Union aren’t strangers to this tournament. Making it far in the past 3 seasons. Being runners up in 2014, and 2015, this team knows what it takes to win the cup. It would be the first time, winning it in teams history, but not the first winner from Pennsylvania.
Back in 2014, is when the Union, really made their presence in the tournament. Making it to the final was no easy task mind you. First it started out with the Union taking on the New England Revolution in the quarterfinals, winning 2-0. Followed by a breathe taking penalty shoot out win against Houston Dynamo 1-1, 4-3 on penalties. Next up was the final against Seattle. Seattle has always been a power house in the MLS, and the Union never really matched up well against the Sounders. This being the Union’s first ever final in any competition, you know the team had to be nervous. This being said, I was at this game, and let me tell you, the atmosphere there was electric. I’ve been to many Union games before, and I’ve never felt the stadium jam packed before. I mean seriously, its soccer! Most Americans don’t care for soccer, unless its the World Cup. In this case it didn’t matter. The Union always put on a show for their fans, but with this being the first final in the teams history, you knew it was going to be special. The game was fantastic. The fans were electric, the whole stadium was jumping, cheering for the union, and even the fans of Seattle made a great turnout. Maurice Edu got it started for the Union, with the opening goal, and the stadium just went nuts! Everyone was jumping, shouting, sing ing the Doop Song, which is played when the team scores a goal. The momentum was on our side, till the Sounders scored a late goal, which required extra time. Extra time was a real down fall for the Union, because you can see they had no gas, they were tired, and the Sounders just had the extra leg. It end up being a 3-1 loss for the Union, but the team fought, and never gave up. Just like always in Philadelphia sports, “There’s always next year.”
Well next year came around, and the Union were right back in the final! For the second straight year the team can redeem themselves from last year, and win the Cup! This time around they had to face way more difficult opponents, compared to last season. It started with a round of 16, win against D.C. United 2-1. Followed by a Quarterfinal’s win in penalties 4-3, and then a matchup against Chicago Fire in the semifinals, with a 1-0 win. The Union are now faced up against Sporting Kansas City in the final, back at PPL park in Chester. After a disaster in the final last season, this team was ready to bounce back, and win the Cup. It started off well with an opening goal from the all time leading goal scorer in Sebastian Le Toux, in the 23rd minute. Sporting Kansas City tied the game up in the 65th minute from Krisztian Nemeth. The game went into extra time, many chances were created by both teams, both goalies playing out of their minds, and we go to a penalty shootout. The Union end up losing 7-6 on penalties to Sporting Kansas City, losing in their second straight shootout. It really was a shame for this union team to lose again, but you can’t win them all.
It’s the time again for us Union fans, to get ready for another push to another final in this lovely tournament. The Union play New York Red Bulls in 2 weeks, on Wednesday June 28th 2017 in Harrison, NJ. Will this be another year for the Union in a final, or be a crashing out story like last year? Tune in then, and find out.