After opening win, Union set sights on USOC title

With momentum from third-round win, Philadelphia face D.C. next

Carroll Open Cup

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

CHESTER, Pa. -- Brian Carroll has celebrated an MLS Cup title. Two, actually.

He’s hoping to soon capture a U.S. Open Cup title as well.

Carroll donned the captain’s armband in Philadelphia Union’s 3-0 victory over the Rochester Rhinos in a third-round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match Tuesday night at PPL Park. Freddy Adu scored twice and Josue Martinez registered a goal, but Carroll was also instrumental in the victory.

The historic tournament continues June 5 in a rematch against D.C. United at the Maryland Soccerplex in Boyds, MD. The Union lost 4-2 in penalty kicks last year.

“It’s a tournament I haven’t won in my career and I certainly want to be part of a group that strives to win championships,” Carroll told philadelphiaunion.com. “This is (season) No. 10, and I only made it to the (U.S. Open Cup) final once and lost. It’s something I still haven’t achieved yet and hopefully, we can put something together and take some importance with it.”

Defender Carlos Valdes was suspended for this match along with manager Peter Nowak for red cards accrued in last year’s U.S. Open Cup loss to D.C. United. So the captain’s armband was handed to Carroll, who has been to the MLS Cup playoffs in all nine seasons.

Carroll won MLS titles with D.C. United in 2004 and the Columbus Crew in ’08.

“I don’t think you really need to wear an armband to be a leader,” said Carroll, who added that he last served as captain in 2010 with Columbus. “But I’m honored to wear the captain’s armband, will certainly wear it proudly and I’ll do the best job I can while I have it.”

The Union were both pleased and relieved to win their first-ever U.S. Open Cup match after two previous losses.

After struggling through a five-match winless streak in league play, this was a much-needed boost of confidence.

“I feel like with how we played on the weekend (at Toronto FC), we had to come out like this,” Carroll said. “We had to do as well as we possibly could because of what happened. I think we did that. We still have some things to clean up, but overall, we played a very sound match.”

The next step is repeating the feat next week against D.C. United. And the Union are looking forward to the challenge.

“I think you always want to win a trophy and this club doesn’t have one yet,” said coach John Hackworth. “So this certainly a goal of ours and as we progress. … So we have D.C. in back-to-back games. We had a tough game down there last year, lost on penalty kicks. We’re definitely looking to go back there and get a little revenge. Again, a cup is a cup and this one is important. We just want to play good soccer every game we play.”

The last match was quite frustrating – a 1-0 setback against previously winless Toronto FC on Saturday.

Seventy-two hours later, the scene was completely different.

“We’ve got a turnaround against D.C. on Tuesday, go back to the drawing board and we are going to use the weekend to make a run in this Open Cup,” said Amobi Okugo, who started on the back line. “After the Toronto game, we all looked each other in the eye and forced each other to be better.”

Mission accomplished.

“I wish we could play like that all the time,” defender Sheanon Williams said. “We were dangerous in all phases and created a lot of chances. We have to work on doing it all the time and striving for that type of consistency.”

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