CHESTER, PA- JUNE 23: Philadelphia Union substitutes walk onto the pitch before the match against Sporting Kansas City at PPL Park on June 23, 2012 in Chester, Pennsylvania. The Union won 4-0. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
The Philadelphia Union take on Sporting KC tonight at PPL Park for the right to advance to the US Open Cup finals
You ca't really be blamed for not knowing a lot about the US Open Cup. Despite the fact that it is the oldest soccer competition in the US, its not exactly in the national sports consciousness. The fact that its not televised, not really connected to MLS or have major sponsors... These all come together against the USOC.
However, the inescapable fact is that its silverware. And now that we're down to the semifinals, the remaining teams really care. Not only can they smell a chance to celebrate a title, they also see that slot in the CONCACAF Champions League that comes with a USOC win (that said, the CONCACAF CL may be even more of a dubious competition than the USOC).
The Philadelphia Union, who despite their recent run of form, have struggled through a mostly down season with this cup run being one of their few bright spots. They host Sporting KC tonight at PPL Park for the right to advance to the Open Cup Finals.
"To be in position to play in a final in our third year of existence, to have a chance at some hardware to put a banner in this building, all of those things are important.," said coach John Hackworth. "For our club, we honor the Open Cup and understand it's a privilege to reach the semifinals. But we're not satisfied with that."
Unlike the Union, Sporting KC has enjoyed a very good MLS campaign this season, with their one real notable blight being a recent 4-0 hammering at the hands of this very Philadelphia team.
"That game against Philadelphia was our worst game - and no, we did not forget about it," said KC centerback Aurélien Collin. "We had a very bad game. No excuses. Now we have to go there and be focused enough to not make the same mistakes."
John Hackworth says that after reviewing the tape of that 4-0 win, he didn't really feel the margin of victory was indicative of how the teams played and won't be letting his side get overconfident.
"We want to make the final," said Hackworth. "KC is a fantastic team and one of the best in the league for sure. We know it will be incredibly hard to duplicate the result we had before, we don't expect that to happen. It'll be a good soccer game, two teams that are very motivated. We expect it to be fast and physical, you have two teams that are playing well right now. That wasn't a 4-0 game."
Freddy Adu says the team is focused on winning silverware for themselves and the city.
"This means more than I can say for both me and my teammates. Bringing a trophy back to Philadelphia would be an honor - not to mention that this tournament really has been what has turned our season around. We all want to see it through."
The game takes place tonight at PPL Park. If you don't get tickets, you'll be able to see the game streamed live on the Philadelphia Union website.