It’s funny how some games just creep up on you, no matter how important they are. The Philadelphia Union are playing the New York Red Bulls today in the U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals, and honestly for me it’s barely been a blip on the radar. Perhaps it’s because there’s been so many games compressed into so little time thanks in part to the Copa America and the break Major League Soccer took for it. I’m sure that plays into it. If I’m being honest though, it’s not just that.
I think I haven’t been paying attention to it because of how bad losing in the Finals the past two consecutive years was.
I’m used to the letdowns in the U.S. Open Cup tournament. The first Open Cup match I attended was the Qualifications for the 2011 Open Cup tournament - back then, MLS teams weren’t guaranteed entry into the tournament. There was a qualifying round prior to the actual Cup tournament, and the Union played D.C. United in the play-in round down at the Soccerplex in Boyds, Maryland. In that game, the Union battled back being down a man in extra time to lose in penalties. It was heartbreaking, but it was just a play-in round. In 2012, it was losing to a Sporting Kansas City team the Union had beaten 4-0 a few weeks prior (SKC went on to win the Open Cup that year). In 2013, it was getting smoked 4-0 by an awful D.C. United team that somehow managed to win the Open Cup that year too.
2014 was the worst for me. Being in attendance for the Final and watching the Seattle Sounders lift the trophy on the pitch at PPL Park was crushing. It was like having my guts ripped out. The fact that the Union were up at the half and let it slip away made it that much worse. I don’t think I’ve ever felt worse about a team losing than I did on that night. 2015 was somewhat better somehow. I watched the match on my honeymoon in Toronto. As soon as Andrew Wenger missed that penalty, I turned my computer off and went to bed without saying a word. It was a fun trip, aside from those three hours of watching the Open Cup.
So shame on me I guess. This year the Open Cup snuck up on me, and I don’t have any real expectations. Are the Union going to win it all? Flame out? Lose to the eventual winners for a fifth straight year? I don’t know. I’ll watch and hopefully enjoy, knowing that I’ve seen just about all of the really awful ways to lose the Open Cup.
What are your expectations? Take the poll and let us know in the comments section below.