And just like that, Philadelphia’s impressive run in the U.S. Open Cup comes to an end.
The Union fell to Sporting Kansas City 2-0 at PPL Park on Wednesday night. It was a physical and choppy affair that saw the high-flying Union offense finally brought down to earth.
“I think we made a couple of mistakes and they took advantage,” said Union captain Carlos Valdes after the match. “For some moments of the game, we looked maybe confused. We couldn’t connect a lot of passes in the last part of the field. When you play like that in these kinds of games, a semifinal, you pay a lot for your mistakes.”
Sporting played a high-pressure game, crowding the Union midfield and snuffing out numerous attacks in the final third. Peter Vermes’ side got revenge on the Union after last month’s 4-0 shutout in league play.
“I think their defensive commitment was a little bit better tonight,” explained midfielder Brian Carroll. “Their game plan was to make the game choppy, and it definitely was. They took advantage of their set pieces, and the fact is, we’re not moving on. Now we’ve got to regroup and get ready for Montreal.”
Philadelphia was out-shot by Kansas City, 11 to 5. The sloppy match featured 38 fouls and 6 yellow cards.
“At the end of the day, in soccer, sometimes you play well and you lose the game,” explained Valdes. “Sometimes you play so-so and you win the game. At the end of the day, the most important thing was to win this game, and be in the final. We were trying to make history for the Philadelphia Union. I feel bad, because I wanted to play in the final of the Open Cup.”
Despite the loss, the Union can still find positives in their tournament performance.
Prior to the Union’s third round win over Rochester, the team had just 2 wins and 7 losses in league play. The cup run sparked a positive stretch in which Philadelphia went 6-3-0 in all competitions.
“It started the momentum that’s led to the past few positive games in the league,” added Carroll. “We need to take what we did well in this tournament, and the last couple of games, and apply it on the weekend against Montreal and not have any letdowns. We can find ourselves back in it if we continue to push forward and do well and get good results.”
A disappointed John Hackworth talked about the value of his team’s semifinal run.
“It was great. It gave the team--at a time when they didn’t have a lot to play for--something to really play for,” said Hackworth. “It allowed us to get back, and get some confidence against some really good teams. I told (assistant coaches Rob Vartughian and Brendan Burke): this is a great game for us to learn from. There are a lot of things that we can use from this game to go forward. When you dissect this kind of game, and you look at it, you can get better from the mistakes we made. And that’s what we’ll do. It’s terribly disappointing, but this is one of those very teachable moments.”