Two wins away, Union set gaze on USOC title

Philadelphia face Sporting KC in semifinals July 11 at PPL Park

MacMath vs. Harrisburg

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

CHESTER, Pa. -- “We want some silverware in that cabinet, for sure. That’s what we want.”

Those were the words from Union interim manager John Hackworth following Tuesday night’s 5-2 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal win over the Harrisburg City Islanders.

The victory means that Philadelphia now stand two wins away from the first trophy in franchise history.

“I think it’s huge,” Hackworth said of advancing to the Open Cup semifinals. “The players, they know it, that it’s a big deal for this club and this organization. Everybody in this organization has worked pretty hard so that we have an opportunity to play a semifinal in this cup here, and that’s a huge, huge task from our front office and ownership and everybody -- to say we want to host this game and that’s how important it is to us. They won that bid. That gives us the advantage, no matter who our opponent is, and it’s important to us.”

The Union will need to get past Kansas City to advance to the Open Cup finals. Sporting beat the Dayton Dutch Lions 3-0 on Tuesday night to set up a July 11 rematch at PPL Park. Philadelphia thrashed Kansas City 4-0 in league play on Saturday night.

“This tournament is exactly what it is -- it’s open. It’s wide open,” said Union midfielder Brian Carroll. “Anybody can do it. No matter who we play, it’s going to be a tough match. It’s about improving and getting better and making sure that we get to those results and continue to learn how to win.”

The Union did not win an Open Cup game until this season’s 3-0 victory against Rochester. That run continued with a road win against D.C. followed by Tuesday night’s emphatic result.

Philadelphia were eliminated by New York and D.C. in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

“We want to get the trophy,” said Amobi Okugo, who partnered with Porfirio Lopez in central defense on Tuesday night. “The semifinals are good, but it’s not good enough. We want to give the silverware to the fan base, to the organization for putting that trust in us. I know myself and Jack (McInerney) were some of the originals, so it’s good to be here for the long run and hopefully we can reward them with a trophy.”

Okugo and McInerney have been with the team since the very beginning. From the start, it’s always been about bringing a trophy to Chester.

“We’ve had a young team throughout the years,” said McInerney. “We had a little luck with the D.C. game, then we really realized, three games and we can win our first piece of silverware. We’re taking it seriously, and since the season hasn’t been the best for us, this is something we can look forward to.”

“We all want to be a part of something special,” explained Freddy Adu. “That’s something that can never be taken away from you. Being the first to do something is always very, very special. We all know this is a great chance for us, especially having these games at home, to get us hopefully to the final. It’s a great chance and we want to take advantage of that.”

WATCH: Reactions & highlights