It was finally time for the much anticipated 105th Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final between the Philadelphia Union and the Houston Dynamo in Houston.
The third time would not be the charm, as they fell to the first time finalists, 3-Nil.
Dynamo Starting XI:4-2-3-1
GK: Joe Willis, Ds Philippe Senderos, Alejandro Fuenmayor, DaMarcus Beasley(C); MFs Andrew Wenger, Boniek Garcia, Juan David Cabezas, Tomas Martinez, Fs Romell Quioto, Mauro Manotas, Alberth Elis
Union Starting XI: 4-2-3-1
GK Andre Blake; Ds Raymon Gaddis, Auston Trusty, Keegan Rosenberry, Mark McKenzie; MFs Alejandro Bedoya (C), Haris Medunjanin, Fafa Picault, Borek Dockal; Fs CJ Sapong, Cory Burke
Houston scored early as Manotas somehow was left unmarked inside the box, and easily headed home a low cross from the right side by Elis 4′
This came right after a Union goal was rightly called back for off-side.
The Union now trailed in regulation of a U.S. Open Cup final for the first time.
Through the first 22′ the U had almost 74% possession, but we have seen this movie before early in the season, where they are the better team everywhere, except on the score sheet.
This point was further driven home when Manotas earned a Brace as he just maneuvered through the Union defense, clanked the ball off the left post, and in. 2-Nil Houston 25′
Poor passing, poor defense, poor taking advantage of chances, led to a 2-Nil deficit at the half.
As if things did not go badly in the first half, Blake made a save on a hard shot by Quioto, but Trusty apparently trying to clear the ball wide, kicked it right in the net for an Own Goal. 65′
It was this kind of night for the U
The Union would make several runs after that, but few were tough chances for Willis, and the game ended without any further scoring by either side.
The team would now have to regain focus for the playoff push ahead.
Kevin Garcia for Senderos 41′
Darwin Ceren for Garcia
Memo Rodriguez for Quioto 83′
Jay Simpson for Burke 68′
David Accam for Dockal 78′
Derrick Jones for Medunjanin 89′
Even with the extra TOP, it was obvious early that there was just something not present for the U tonight. They often appeared as if just by showing up, that they could win this match. Even with resting players on Sunday, the four games in less than two weeks with lots of travel, may be catching up with them.
To give Houston credit, this game was also their season, as they are out of playoff contention, and they played like it.
One other interesting note, US Soccer veteran DaMarcus Beasley has now won the US Open Cup three times in 2000, 2003 and now 2018. That 2003 Chicago fire team was the same one that Union Head Coach Jim Curtin started in. Curtin was also on the squad in 2000, but did not play in the Cup final.
To end this tough stretch of 5 matches that started on 9/15, the U hit the road again to face the Columbus Crew on Saturday 9/29 @ 7:30 PM.
There are scenarios where the club could just about clinch a playoff spot with a win. They would also need the New England Revolution, DC United and the Montreal Impact to lose. Philly would then have 49 Pts, Montreal with 40, and NE and DC each with 35. Impact and Union both have three games left, the Revs have four, United has five.
Assuming the Union lose all their matches, Montreal and the U could tie in Pts, but right now they have a -3 Goal Differential vs the Union. DC United actually has a chance to pass the U if they win their remaining matches to reach 50 Pts. Tie or lose one, they are done.
Even if all that happened the U are still pretty much a lock for sixth place at least with a win on Saturday.