After their 2-0 shutout victory against Houston on Sunday, the Philadelphia Union are ready to take on one of their toughest matches in franchise history: the battle for the U.S. Open Cup.
The Cup is the oldest American soccer tournament with significant historical value to the Philadelphia area. Teams such as the Philadelphia Ukrainians and Bethlehem Steel F.C have both won this trophy – the wins coming decades before the concept of the Philadelphia Union.
This year, the Union will take on Sporting Kansas City in the final at PPL park on September 30.
The Union secured their spot in the final after defeating the Chicago Fire in 1-0 win thanks to a late strike by Sebastien Le Toux. The Union have traditionally played well in the USOC despite their unfortunate runs in MLS.
The Union take on Sporting KC – winners of the 2004 and 2012 USOC championship title – as they remain without a title in their second USOC final in two years.
The good news for the Union as they enter this match next Wednesday is that they will have their fearless captain Maurice Edu at the center back position again. Edu made his return from injury against Houston on Sunday night. Edu adds experience and playmaking ability on an already solid defensive line – one coming off a shutout victory – just in time for what is set to be a challenging match.
A win for Philadelphia means that the Union get their first piece of silverware in franchise history. With history in the making, the Union – and fans for that matter – are glad that their front midfielders – Le Toux, Cristian Maidana, and Tranquilllo Barnetta – have all gotten on the board ahead of the big game. The most recent being Barnetta in the 2-0 win on Sunday where he slammed home his first for the blue and gold. This couldn’t have happened soon enough as now the offense is clicking and starting to get positive results.
Before the Union make their appearance under the flood lights, they have to take on the New England Revolution in a league match on Saturday night. Being in the midst of a late season playoff push, the Union are in a must win situation for the rest of MLS play. Despite their best efforts to gain some space in the running for 6th place in the Eastern Conference, the Union have been met with opposition as other teams plan their own push.
The Union have their hands full this week with training and preparations for two very big games. With history waiting in the wings for a second straight year, the Union have their sights set on the trophy match. The battle for the USOC will come to an end next Wednesday.