CHESTER, Pa. — After getting routed 4-1 at home by Montreal on Sept. 15, there were legitimate concerns that the Philadelphia Union would limp into Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup final (8 pm ET; ESPN2, UDN) on a three-game losing streak.
Instead, the Union will soar into Houston fresh off their two most surprising wins of the year, as they followed a streak-busting midweek triumph in Seattle with a 2-0 win Sunday over Sporting Kansas City, the latter of which was accomplished while most of Philly’s starters were given a rest.
“Good ol’ MLS, right?” Union captain Alejandro Bedoya said. “Anything can happen. Anybody can beat anybody, really. We said before the game nobody expected us to even get a result here, playing our so-called B team. But we said there’s a lot of guys who are fighting for spots that are trying to get into the starting lineup. So the mentality was really good from the get-go.”
Bedoya was one of the regular starters, along with Fafa Picault and Keegan Rosenberry, called upon in the second half to help seal a win that moves the Union closer to an Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs spot — and a possible home playoff game.
But for now all attention will be on the Union’s opportunity to win their first trophy when they take on the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium in their third Open Cup title game in five years.
Interestingly enough, they’ll attempt to do so fresh off beating the same teams they lost to in their two other Open Cup final appearances, in 2014 and 2015.
“I hope we can go into Houston with a lot of confidence,” Bedoya said. “We’ve already beaten them once there [on July 25]. So why not again and bring back our first trophy for the club?”
Union head coach Jim Curtin credited Bedoya for making sure the Union righted the ship after the ugly loss vs. Montreal, and for motivating the reserves ahead of Sunday’s game vs. SKC. It helped, too, that Bedoya assisted on both goals after coming on for Borek Dockal, one of only two starters to get the starting nod as Curtin felt it important to make sure everyone would be at full strength Wednesday.
“Ale’s leadership has been incredible,” Curtin said. “On the field, I think he’s been best 11, but what you guys don’t get to see is off the field how incredible he’s been in terms of growing as a leader and putting his arm around the young guys and giving some of them a kick to motivate them as well.”
The Union captain believes there's a lot left to accomplish this year, starting with a chance at a championship Wednesday.
“We’ve been saying it all year: We can play with anybody,” Bedoya said. “It’s one thing to say it, but we really do believe we can play with anybody.”