US Open Cup: With final set, here's what to expect from Philadelphia Union vs. Seattle Sounders
After Wednesday night's annihilation, the US Open Cup final is set: The Seattle Sounders will head east to face the Philadelphia Union on Sept. 16 at PPL Park. The game may be a month away, but it's never too early to start looking at how this match will play out.
First, let's take a look at the history between these two clubs. They have faced off a total of seven times since the Union entered MLS in 2010, with the Sounders winning three of the seven games and the Union managing to win twice.
The tiebreaker came earlier this year, when the Sounders beat the Union 2-1 at CenturyLInk Field on the back of an 84th-minute goal from Chad Marshall. In that game, the Sounders controlled 54 percent of the possession and had six shots on target compared to the Union's one. Let's also remember that the Union did not have the services of Carlos Valdes in that game, and Andrew Wenger started up top, something we are unlikely to see in a month. Check out some other stats from that game here.
Some other players you might see on Sept. 16 who have scored in previous matchups between these two teams are: Brad Evans, Fred, Sebastien Le Toux, Brian Carroll, Obafemi Martins and Danny Cruz, who scored two on the Sounders at PPL Park last season.
Speaking of Union-Sounders games at PPL Park, the teams have faced off on the banks of the Delaware three times, and Philadelphia have yet to lose. Back in 2010, the Union defeated the Sounders 3-1 behind goals from Le Toux, Fred and Danny Mwanga. The last two games between these teams in Philadelphia have both been draws, with last year's game ending 2-2 thanks to Cruz, Eddie Johnson and Mauro Rosales.
Taking a more narrow look and strictly looking at 2014, we can see how each team has fared at home (Union) and on the road (Sounders).
The Union have not exactly been lighting it up at home so far in 2014. They have just three wins in 10 games, defeating only New England, New York and Montreal -- not exactly the top of the league. Philadelphia have averaged 1.4 points per game in the 10 games, below the league average of 1.6 ppg. They have also controlled just 50 percent of the possession at home, ranking 14th in MLS.
Of course, since Jim Curtin took over as interim manager in June, the Union have won three home Open Cup games (yet they needed overtime to beat two minor-league teams) and gone 2-0-1 in league play at PPL Park. They will have an opportunity to continue that upward trend before the final, as three of their next five league games are at home.
On the other side, the Sounders' form on the road has not differed that much from when they are at home. They have averaged 1.7 points when away from home, second in the league. Seattle have collected impressive wins against FC Dallas and D.C. United and solid draws against Cascadia rivals Portland and Vancouver. Union fans can be encouraged by some of the Sounders' recent performances on the road, however, as Seattle have have been shut out by Vancouver and San Jose in their last two road games.
There is also the little matter of Seattle winning this tournament three straight times from 2009-11 (winning a road championship game in 2009) and reaching the final again in 2012, also on the road, only to draw the match and fall in penalty kicks.
Who are you picking in the final? Let us know in the comments below.