For a third time in franchise history, the Philadelphia Union have to settle for runners up in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup after losing to the Houston Dynamo 3-0 on Wednesday night at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Things started brightly for the Union when Fafa Picault appeared to have put the blue and gold in front. But he was correctly ruled offside and the Dynamo responded seconds later with a goal from Mauro Manotas.
On the play, Alberth Elis beat Ray Gaddis to the end line and crossed the ball back to the head of Manotas. Andre Blake and Jack Elliott both went for the ball on the cross, leaving Manotas with a free header when it got through.
“It was difficult for us obviously going from the emotion of thinking maybe we had scored a goal into conceding, never really rebounded from that,” head coach Jim Curtin said. “Our mentality maybe wasn’t there on the night. With a team like Houston getting the first goal is key for them because it does open up the other team a little bit, they’re built for it.”
Manotas burned the Union back line again in the 25th minute when he blew by Auston Trusty in the open field and used the space Elliott was giving him to fire a low shot off that Blake was unable to keep out.
The second half wasn’t much prettier for the visitors as they struggled to move the ball the way they’ve done of late in a run of good form that has seen them rise into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference standings.
Houston padded their lead in the 65th minute when Auston Trusty’s attempted to clear the rebound from a Romell Quioto shot, but ended up depositing it in the back of his own net.
As bad of a moment as it was for the 20-year-old, the goal would end up being made inconsequential because of the Union offense’s inability to mount a comeback.
Reigning MLS Player of the Week Jay Simpson, who subbed in for the mostly ineffective Cory Burke in the 68th minute, had a couple of clear chances — one on a free header — he was unable to convert.
But overall, the offense that has been firing on all cylinders of late did little to pressure the Dynamo in the closing minutes of the match, leaving little doubt to the inevitable outcome or to any questions about which side was deserving of lifting its first Open Cup trophy.
“On the night it just didn’t seem to be that we were cooking on all cylinders,” said Curtin, who thanked the several hundred traveling supporters and offered an apology for the outcome.
By losing the Open Cup final for the third time in five years, the Philadelphia Union became the first team from Major League Soccer to lose three finals and just the fifth team to lose three in the competition’s history.
“It’s disappointing I’m frustrated, it sucks,” captain Alejandro Bedoya said. “I really wanted this trophy but we got to take it on the chin and move on and hopefully we can make a run at the playoffs.”
Two players with local ties did end the night with winners medals. Former Philadelphia Union midfielder and Lititz, Pa. native Andrew Wenger started the match at right back while Villanova University alum Kevin Garcia replaced the injured Philippe Senderos in the 41st minute.