Philadelphia Union at D.C. United
What: Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fourth round
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.; Where: Maryland SoccerPlex, Boyds, Md.
TV: None; Radio: None
Online: Streaming webcast on philadelphiaunion.com/live featuring play-by-play from announcer Tony Limarzi
Open Cup record: Union 4-3-0 overall, last win: 2-1 vs. Ocean City Nor'Easters (USL-PDL)
It was just a matter of time.
The Philadelphia Union realized if they were going to make another deep run in the U.S. Open Cup, they would have to win a match against D.C. United at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, MD.
Last season, the Union advanced all the way to the semifinals before being ousted by eventual champion Sporting Kansas City.
If the Union want to reach the quarterfinals, they’ll have to get past D.C. United once again Wednesday night in Boyds, Md..
This will be the third straight season that these two clubs will meet at this venue.
“For some reason, we always seem to match up against them at that field in Maryland,” said Union midfielder and captain Brian Carroll. “Their record doesn’t matter. It’s a rivalry match to begin with. We have had some real battles with D.C. United. We bring out the competitors in each other. The matches are tough. It’s not easy to play there. We’ve won there before and we can do it again if we stick to our gameplan and execute like we know we can.”
Union manager John Hackworth expects a fierce battle in every match. When the opponent is D.C. United, he anticipates an even tougher draw.
“I expect this game to be a typical game that we’ll play down at the SoccerPlex for the third year in a row,” Hackworth said. “I think it’s going to be a hard game. I think it’s going to be a very emotional game. I think that D.C. will absolutely put everything they have into winning the game. We’ll have to make sure that we match or exceed all of those things.”
In the last two meetings, the matches have been heated with yellow cards, red cards and a general dislike between the two clubs.
Is it challenging to channel emotion in a huge rivalry match?
“We always talk about that fine line of being emotional, putting 100 percent effort into everything you do, being competitive but trying to be composed, too,” Hackworth said. “(It’s) trying not to cross a line. There is a very fine line where performance starts to drop because you let your emotions take over. As an athlete, you want to be at optimal awareness, keep all the levels as high as you can without going too far across so that you’re performing to the best of your ability.”
The Union will be prepared for a feisty match. And the players know they’ll have to remain composed.
The goal is simply to win the match.
“We have to play hard, but we have to play smart as well,” said defender Sheanon Williams. “We expect a hard-fought emotional match when we play D.C. United. This should be no different. We can’t get caught up in veering away from what’s at stake. It’s a big match for us and we know what we have to do in order to win. We have to play hard-nosed soccer but smart as well.”
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org