[U.S. OPEN CUP: Final]
As an organization, the Seattle Sounders have a brief yet rich tradition of U.S. Open Cup competition, but Philadelphia has a few
individuals who’ve been to the summit as well.
Seattle won the trophy in its first three MLS seasons (2009-11) and lost the 2012 final to Sporting Kansas City. After beating Real
Salt Lake, 3-2, on Friday, it boasts the best record in MLS play (17-7-3). Though it traveled cross-country last weekend, it has one more day of rest heading in the final Tuesday at PPL Park (live at
7:30 p.m. ET on GolTV, goltv.tv and in Philadelphia on The Comcast Network).
The Union is staying at home after tying New York, 2-2, on Saturday with a few regulars kept out of the
starting lineup. Conor Casey
, Sheanon Williams
and Carlos Valdes
play at all, and Sebastien Le Toux
, Cristian Maidana
and Victor Nogueira
off the bench to spark the rally that earned a hotly disputed penalty kick in stoppage time that knotted up the game.
Union coach Jim Curtin
three-time finalist and won the trophy twice with Chicago. Le Toux, who hit the tying penalty kick against the Red Bulls, is the the all-time U.S. Open leader with 14 goals and was a member of
Seattle’s 2009 title-winning team. Fred
(D.C. United, 2008) and Ethan White
(D.C. United, last year) also have
titles in their resumes.
“I don’t want that losing feeling,” says Curtin, who grew up near Philadelphia in Oreland and played collegiately at Villanova. “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.”
The Sounders won’t lack for confidence, but this game starts a rough stretch of five games in 16 days. They have reached the final by winning close games -- Portland in overtime, San Jose on
penalty kicks -- and easing past Chicago and PSA Elite. After a Monday training session at PPL Park, Coach Sigi Schmid
admitted there were lineup decisions to
be made but expressed the confidence of a man who’s been there, and emerged triumphant, before.
“We think with the amount of rest we’ve had from our game on Friday, we
feel good about the group,” said Schmid. “We haven’t made final decisions. There are probably three or four things that are up in the air for us. We just want to approach every game
to win it. Sometimes that means you make lineup changes and sometimes you don’t.”
There's no question that Union players, coaches, executives and fans are primed for this
game. A 6-2-4 record since Curtin took over for John Hackworth
has rekindled the team's spirit and getting the final at home is another factor in Philly's
favor, despite the reputation and current form of the opponent.
“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.”