Match preview: Quite the first test for interim boss Curtin against Harrisburg in Open Cup

Previewing Tuesday's Open Cup clash at PPL Park (7 p.m.)

Open Cup image 1

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

Harrisburg City Islanders at Philadelphia Union

What: Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, fourth round; 

When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.; Where: PPL Park, Chester, Pa. 

TV: None; Ticket informationClick here

Radio: None for match, but listen to soccer talk pregame beginning at 5:30 p.m. on "The 90th Minute" presented by Farmers Insurance on CBS SportsRadio WIP (610-AM)

Online: Watch LIVE streaming at philadelphiaunion.com/live

Social: Follow all the action on Twitter via @TheUMatchDay

 Parking information: $10 parking for season tickets holders in all lots, $15 for non season ticket holders.

Mass Transit: One (1) shuttle from Chester Transportation Center to and/or from PPL Park

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Jim Curtin’s first test as top man for the Philadelphia Union comes at an interesting time.

Against an even more interesting opponent.

During the midst of the global spectacular that is the FIFA World Cup, the Union will open play in a quest to chase a Cup of a different kind when it takes on developmental affiliate the Harrisburg City Islanders in fourth round play of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

As another installment of America’s oldest soccer tournament kicks off for the Union Tuesday night under the lights at PPL Park (7 p.m., purchase tickets), the Union ready for this one coming off a week long break from MLS action, looking to do big things for Curtin, who took over interim coaching responsibilities just last week.

It’s interesting though however, because for the second year in a row, the Union will look to dispatch a team in which many of the players on its roster have Union contracts, but were sent down to get more minutes in meaningful matches.

“The Open Cup is unique,” Curtin said. “It’s one of only two trophies you can win in this country and to play an affiliate in the second round, it’s tricky. They’ll know us and we’ll know them very well and again it’s a game in which we should dictate the tempo especially on our home field…the fact that we have it here and that ownership pushed to have it here it a huge advantage.”

Harrisburg enters fourth round play coming off a 4-0 defeat of the Lehigh Valley Sonic in third round action and enters on a high after a 3-1 defeat of USL-PRO rival Pittsburgh last Wednesday. The City Islanders sit at 3-6-3 (12 points) in USL-PRO play.

Forward Morgan Langley, who had a brief stint with the Union first team during the 2012 season, leads Harrisburg with four goals, while Union preseason trialist Clesio Bauque follows just behind with three. Both are speedy, have good touch and are solid in front of goal and will certainly pose a threat.

Although, lower on the totem pole of soccer hierarchy in America, no one within the Union organization looks at this Harrisburg team as a walkover – in fact anything but noted Curtin, who celebrated Open Cup titles during his playing days in Major League Soccer with Chicago and Chivas USA.

“Anyone can enter the U.S. Open Cup and go on a run and I’ve seen it,” said Curtin. “You’ve seen bar league teams get on a bit of a run and knock teams off, I remember when I was at Chivas [USA] there was a big upset when a team of guys in a Mexican Sunday League came up and beat a pro team. That’s what makes it great and makes it exciting.”

This match is a two-headed sword for Curtin.

On one side, it’s a match he knows a big win will set his head coaching foray off on the right foot, but on the other side, it’s a great opportunity to allow players that customarily don’t receive major minutes to prove themselves on a meaningful stage.

“I’m a new coach and I have to win, but I think there are some chances to insert a few guys on our roster and get the chance to see how they hold up,” said Curtin. “But I also believe that if you put the right pieces around them and the right leaders around them they will thrive. I know these guys can play, I see them every day in training now it’s just a matter of seeing them in a game.”

What are your thoughts on the Union’s U.S. Open Cup opener? Leave a comment below.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com