Seattle Sounders FC at Philadelphia Union
What: Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship match
When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.; Where: PPL Park, Chester, Pa.; Tickets: purchase tickets
TV: The Comcast Network featuring play-by-play announcer Marc Zumoff and color analyst Peter Pappas
Radio: None; Social: Follow the action via Twitter: @TheUMatchday
Parking: $20 at all PPL Park approved lots; Mass transportation: Regular shuttle service to and from Chester Transportation Center
Only two trophies can be hoisted in Major League Soccer.
The Philadelphia Union are sure hoping to raise the first one in club history when they host Seattle Sounders FC Tuesday night in the U.S. Open Cup title match at PPL Park.
It’s a huge opportunity for the franchise and they’re fully aware of that fact.
“I’m from the city so as a player I won that trophy two times and lost it once,” Union interim manager Jim Curtin said. “I don’t want that losing feeling. As a coach, it’s different. I don’t want to let the city down so it’s different. It’s something that is a special feeling. For a club, once you get your first trophy there’s confidence. When people talk about the Philadelphia Union, they’re champions. That changes things, just playing in a final you can tell there is a buzz about this team now. Publicly in the media, when they say over and over again, ‘Seattle vs. Philadelphia,’ these are positive things to be mentioned in the same breathe of Seattle for the past several months.
“They are the best team in the league right now. I’m not going to sit up here and tell you they’re not. They’re flying on all cylinders. We respect them but we don’t fear them. My group is not scared. We will be ready to go on Tuesday, we’re excited for it. It was good to get this New York game past us. We would’ve liked to get three points, that was the goal but we came up a little short. It’s almost like (Saturday) didn’t happen.”
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup was founded for the 1913-14 season and it remains the oldest soccer competition in the United States. This tournament is open to all amateur and professional soccer teams in the U.S., and this year there were 80 teams competing from 11 different leagues and organizations.
Curtin won the U.S. Open Cup twice with the Chicago Fire. Sebastien Le Toux, who is the all-time U.S. Open leader with 14 goals, won the tournament with Seattle in 2009. Fred won the title with D.C. United in ’08 and Ethan White captured a trophy with D.C. United in 2013.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Fred said. “You get to this level, you want to win it all and hold the trophy. We’re going to try our best to bring back a championship.”
Defender Ray Gaddis echoed similar thoughts.
“We have a deep enough group – I’d even say this is probably as deep of a group we’ve had since I’ve been here that can come on the field and contribute in any manner the coaches need them to,” Gaddis said. “We need to make sure that we stay compact and together. From a leadership standpoint, we have those vocal guys that can dictate play and control the match for us and right now everything seems to be clicking at the right time. We hope to continue that on Tuesday.”
Despite a challenging schedule, the Union are healthy.
Key starters such as defenders Carlos Valdes and Sheanon Williams even received rest in Saturday’s hard-fought 2-2 draw against the New York Red Bulls.
“We’re as healthy as we’ve been,” Curtin said. “It’s a credit to our medical staff.”
Sounders manager Sigi Schmid, who has guided the club to three U.S. Open Cup titles, is also pleased with the lack of injuries on his side.
“We’re as healthy as we’ve been all season,” Schmid said. “It’s just a matter of making some (roster) decisions.”
In 24 hours, the Union will walk out of the tunnel, preparing to play and potentially hoist the first trophy in club history.
There’s no getting around this fact – this is a huge match.
“Winning any sort of title is a big deal and for us we want to be the team that brings the first trophy to this franchise, so everyone is motivated,” Le Toux said. “I try to show my experience and leadership because I know what it takes to win this final and I hope I can win again with Philadelphia. Winning a trophy is such a great feeling. I hope all these guys here have that chance. We’re going to do everything we can to make it happen.”
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Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org