So you need reasons to watch a final beyond the somewhat tautological “It’s a final!”
OK, we can do that.
The Union have been in two US Open Cup finals before. Both times they faced off against extremely strong and experienced opponents. Both times they went ahead in the first half.
Both times they came brutally close to glory. And both times they fell just short.
This year, Houston Dynamo are the team for whom the US Open Cup is a lone chance for glory. After falling apart over the past two months, Houston can still get something from a disappointing season with an Open Cup win. They survived a terrifying late-game collapse against LAFC in the semifinal to get to this point, and they will see this as the biggest match remaining this year. Meanwhile, the Union will head off to try and snatch a home playoff game from Columbus three days after the final.
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Union on the front foot
Philly will be the more positive side in this match, which means you will get to see plenty of pushing, probing, and creative play from the club’s monsters in midfield. Borek Dockal is unquestionably the key man in this match for the Union, and if he can unlock Houston’s defense early, the Dynamo will have to come out of what will surely start as a shell.
In the past, the Union have often relied on counterattacking play or struggled to hold the ball in the opponent’s final third.
This iteration of Jim Curtin’s Union will establish possession by working the ball around the back and try to dominate the proceedings from the get-go.
Here to make a change
Some players on this Union roster lived through past Open Cup finals defeats. Others experienced the pain of those losses in different ways. Guys like Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie, and Anthony Fontana may not have been on the roster when Philly went down to Seattle or Kansas City, but they were already part of the club.
Now they have a chance to avenge those past heartbreaks, and to do it for a club they have grown up in. When Trusty goes out on that pitch Wednesday night, he will go out knowing that he can draw a line in the sand between the struggles of the past and a new, bright future led by a youthful core that has grown up learning how to play a specifically Philly style of soccer.
So come for the final, but stay for what it says about the future.
The Union roll into Houston to face the Dynamo in the 2018 US Open Cup final on Wednesday, September 26 at 8PM EST on ESPN2.