Union headed back to Boyds for another Open Cup battle against D.C. United
It just wouldn't be a U.S. Open Cup tournament without a trip to Boyds, Md.
For the third straight year, the Philadelphia Union will travel to the Maryland SoccerPlex for a matchup against D.C. United.
The Union's Eastern Conference rival squeezed by the Richmond Kickers on penalty kicks in the the tournament's third round.
Conversely, Philadelphia bypassed Ocean City, 2-1 by virtue of a second half stoppage time thriller from captain Brian Carroll.
Manager John Hackworth laughed when asked about the impending June 12 matchup.
"Thanks for that," he joked, when notified his team would be making another road trip to Maryland. "That's a tough place to play. As anybody who's been down there the last couple of years (knows), it's always been a battle. It's going to be a crazy game, very emotional for both teams."
"Battle" might be an understatement.
The 2011 contest at the SoccerPlex included four yellow cards and red card for then captain Carlos Valdes.
The Union lost on penalty kicks and former manager Peter Nowak was ejected for "excessive celebration" in extra time.
"It always seems to go through that field," said former United man Brian Carroll, who scored the game winner against Ocean City and also scored at the SoccerPlex in both 2011 and 2012. "They're going to be a good opponent. The Open Cup is always a battle, and because it's against D.C., it's a rivalry, it's an extra heated match. We expect their best and we're going to have to bring our best."
The 2012 game was just as wild as the 2011 version.
The match again went to extra time, the Union winning on Antoine Hoppenot's well-taken 93rd minute goal. Five yellow cards were shown before Valdes and Brandon McDonald were ejected after a fight in the 112th minute.
It was Philadelphia's first win against an MLS side in Open Cup play and Valdes' second red card at the same venue in as many years.
"I'm not a huge fan of the SoccerPlex," admitted right back Sheanon Williams, who played there in 2011 but missed the 2012 showdown due to injury. "But it's a nice field. I don't know what it is. Something about D.C. always brings out a bit of animosity."
Goalkeeper Zac MacMath played for the Union in the 2012 version of the contest. Faryd Mondragon was in net in 2011.
"We enjoy it, we're excited to play D.C. again," MacMath said. "Obviously it's a big rivalry for us and the Open Cup has become a big rivalry for us with them. We're all looking forward to it and I think it'll be a great game."
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org