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My Open Cup story: Maurice Edu

The Philadelphia Union captain talks to Brotherly Game about winning a domestic cup with Rangers, losing one with the Philadelphia Union, and how he's motivating the team ahead of tomorrow's U.S. Open Cup match against Sporting Kansas City.

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Union captain Maurice Edu has seen this before.

During his time with Scottish giants Rangers FC, Edu won the Scottish Cup in his first season after being transferred from Toronto FC.

When asked about playing in Open Cup competitions and what some similarities were between the Scottish Cup and the U.S. Open Cup, Edu said "Whenever you're in a Cup competition, it's special because it's not just the top-tier clubs that are playing but a chance for the smaller clubs who are playing in a lower league to get a chance to go on an amazing journey which could end up with them being in the final or winning the cup - a championship that they wouldn't normally get that opportunity (to win). They'll face some of the top-flight clubs, or maybe they will face some of the teams that are above them and some teams that are below them, but it's a chance to get everyone - every team a chance to compete for a title."

While there are commonalities in the Scottish and United States competitions, there are certainly differences - especially when it comes to expectations that are set on the clubs.

"I feel they're different" Edu said, pausing a moment to collect his thoughts. "For me they're different I guess because when I was at Rangers, my team there was expected to win everything, so whether it's playing in the Cup or playing in a league match - regardless of who we matched up against the pressure was on us to go out there and win every game, whereas maybe things are slightly a little bit different here just because of the situation that we created for ourselves at the beginning of the season, but that also creates a unique situation for us here because now the Cup is that much more important to us because of the way we've kind of approached this season in some ways."

While Edu and Rangers won their last Scottish Cup in 2008-09, he hasn't found the same success in Major League Soccer. Toronto FC finished second in the Voyageurs Cup in 2008, and the Philadelphia Union lost a heartbreaker last year to the Seattle Sounders after extra time. As the Union's captain, I wanted to see how Edu was approaching the guys in the locker room about last season, and if they were using last season's defeat as motivation in this year's tournament.

"I think everyone is motivated individually, but as a team I think yeah of course the fact that we were in the Final last year, the fact that we hosted the Final, and that lasting image of seeing Seattle hoist the trophy in front of our home fans and celebrate on our pitch, I think that left a lasting impression on everybody," Edu posited. "It's something that we mentioned at the beginning of the season when we set these goals for ourselves of wanting to get back here and get back to the Final, but along the way we've just kind of taken it step by step, game by game.

"We know the competition is such that you either win or go home, and for some reason we seem to thrive under that pressure and in those situations," Edu continued. "So I think the motivation was just to get back to the Final. We felt we played a great game on that night last year and came up just a little bit short, and I think everyone has that same belief that we could have won that game - we should have won that game. So at the end of the season our goal was to get back to the Cup Final - we've done that. Now, the pressure and the goal and the agenda is to go and do what we should have done last year, which is win a Cup Final - give our fans something to celebrate and we're fortunate enough to be hosting the Final again so to be able to lift a trophy here - the first one in the club's history - in front of our home fans would be unbelievable, and that's the motivation for us right there."

For the guys who weren't here last season, that motivation may or may not translate well for them. For instance, Richie Marquez was with the Harrisburg City Islanders last season and Tranquillo Barnetta was with Bundesliga giants Schalke 04, and I wondered if the lessons of last season's defeat would resonate with them. Edu seemed to think that wouldn't be much of an issue.

"I think they both are guys who understand the importance," he said. "They know the value of winning. They know the value of winning a tournament, of winning cups, of winning competitions, and the value that it adds to this club. I think when they came here and they signed, they knew what they were getting themselves in to. Tranquillo has come from Europe - from Germany - where he's played in multiple cup competitions, so he knows what comes with those situations and that kind of circumstance. I think what's unique about this situation for both of them is that now they have a chance to be a part of history - to etch themselves into the Union history by being a part of this team that wins the first trophy for this club. I think that in and of itself is motivation - why would you not want to be remembered as that team that was able to accomplish something that for five years hasn't been done here? We're all shooting for that. We're all striving to leave a lasting legacy here, and the best way to do that is by winning trophies."

And that's all the motivation anyone needs - to be able to go down in history as a winner.

For all of the Brotherly Game's coverage of the U.S. Open Cup Final, check out our massive storystream.