CHESTER, Pa. -- The Philadelphia Union won the bid to host the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at PPL Park.
But the immediate goal is to win on Tuesday against the Harrisburg City Islanders in the quarterfinal round, also at PPL Park.
If the Union can get past the City Islanders, they’ll face the winner of the Sporting Kansas City/Dayton Dutch Lions matchup in the semifinals on July 10 or 11.
Don’t think for a second that the Union are looking ahead. They’re fully aware of what transpired June 12 at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pa., when the City Islanders won 3-2 in a friendly.
Yes, it was an exhibition, but the City Islanders proved their mettle.
“We know this is a very talented side we’ll be facing,” midfielder Brian Carroll told philadelphiaunion.com. “They have a lot of talented young players who are out to prove themselves against an MLS club. We know we’ll have to be prepared and I’m sure we will be.”
In the fourth round, the City Islanders upended the New York Red Bulls in extra time. It was the fifth time in the last six tournaments that the City Islanders have eliminated an MLS team, and they reached the quarterfinals for the fourth time. Prior to beating New York, the Islanders completed a miraculous comeback against the New England Revolution, winning in penalty kicks after scoring three goals in the second half of stoppage time to overcome a 3-0 deficit.
“I think the City Islanders proved they have a very good team,” said midfielder Amobi Okugo. “I think the friendly will help us as we prepare for them in the quarterfinals. It’s going to be a very tough match and I think we’re all looking forward to the challenge.”
Midfielder Michael Lahoud has never advanced past the semifinals with Chivas USA in the U.S. Open Cup.
Following the Union’s 4-0 victory over sporting Kansas City on Saturday, Lahoud was already anxiously anticipating the quarterfinal matchup against Harrisburg.
“It’s a great tournament and we all take so much pride in trying to win it, which isn’t easy,” Lahoud said. “I reached the semifinals once and I would like to have a shot at winning the whole thing. If we win, we’ll get back to the semifinals and anything can happen. We have a tough match Tuesday, and I think we’re confident after this win.
“We need to get right back to work and prepare for another difficult match Tuesday. I think we’re all excited, especially with a shot to reach the semifinals.”
Of the eight remaining teams in the U.S. Open Cup, five are from MLS – the Union, Seattle Sounders FC, Chivas USA, the San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas City. In addition to the Harrisburg City Islanders, other teams remaining include the Dayton Dutch Lions and the Charlotte Eagles.
Win on Tuesday and the Union are in the Final Four with another home match looming.
“It’s exciting to be still playing and we know what kind of work needs to be put in to win Tuesday and advance,” said goalkeeper Zac MacMath. “I know we’ll be completely focused and ready to play. It’s an exciting opportunity for all of us."