There are plenty of potential storylines Philadelphia Union fans can point to as indicators that the third time might be the charm in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday in Houston.
Andrew Wenger is not one of them.
The Lititz, Pa., native was part of the Union teams that lost the finals in 2014 and 2015. He started in the first loss in extra time to Seattle Sounders, and subbed on late and missed a penalty kick in the shootout that clinched the cup victory for visiting Sporting Kansas City a year later.
It’s perhaps the way the last one ended that our request for an interview wasn't granted. But the fact that he’s carrying that memory into Wednesday’s final should be cause for concern.
It would be so like the Union to lose a game because of a former player’s redemption, wouldn’t it?
That Wenger has a history of showing up and scoring goals in cup competitions is also at play. Counting the Canadian Championship during his time in Montreal, the 27-year-old has five goals in 15 career cup competitions. Four of those have come in the Open Cup.
Compare that to his overall performance numbers in MLS play — 22 goals in 180 matches.
He does only have one goal in 20 matches this season and just three the past two seasons after matching his career high of six his first year in Houston in 2016, but he’s being played in a deeper role on the field, if he’s playing at all.
“He’s done a good job, he’s kind of converted to playing a deeper role, sometimes he’s an outside back for them,” head coach Jim Curtin said. “He’s a guy I have a good relationship with still, no ill will or anything like that.”
Wenger isn’t the only player on the Dynamo roster who spent time with the Union. Eric Bird, who was drafted by the Union in 2015 but didn’t play, was signed to a first team contract with Houston in December after spending two seasons at Rio Grande Valley FC Toros.
The Dynamo also have a defender, Kevin Garcia, who played at Villanova when assistant coach B.J. Callaghan was on staff and also during Curtin’s one season as a volunteer assistant at his alma mater.