KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Aurélien Collin wants to make one thing clear: No matter what happened the last time Sporting Kansas City played the Philadelphia Union, Wednesday’s US Open Cup semifinal at PPL Park (7:30 pm ET, live stream at philadelphiaunion.com) is not a revenge game for him.
“I’m religious, and revenge – that’s against religion,” said the French center back, who sports a large, angel-themed tattoo on his upper left arm. “But it definitely gives us some motivation to go there and get the most goals possible, to make them believe and make them know that it was an error, what happened last time.”
Collin and his teammates definitely have a score to settle with the Union – a 4-0 score, to be exact. That was the final tally in the thumping the Union administered, also at their home ground, in a league match on June 23.
“That game against Philadelphia was our worst game – and no, we did not forget about it,” Collin said on Monday during the team’s weekly news conference. “We had a very bad game. No excuses. Now we have to go there and be focused enough to not make the same mistakes.”
Sporting’s defense, a key strong point in their 7-0-0 start, has shown signs of returning to that dominance, most recently in shutting down Houston in last Saturday’s scoreless draw. That came after a stronger second half performance in last Wednesday’s 3-1 win at Montreal, after the expansion Impact generated chance after chance in the first 45 minutes.
“As a team, I think our shape is very good at the moment,” Vermes said on Monday. “That’s really what helps us to be successful.”
Still, despite Sporting’s focused, forward-looking approach, Vermes understands that his players are looking for a little redemption – and yes, a little payback – in Kansas City’s first semifinal since the then-Wizards won the Open Cup in 2004.
“Nobody likes to get beat,” he said. “You’d always like another shot at that team.”
Sporting, who haven’t won silverware since that 2004 Cup, got an extra shot of motivation last week when US Soccer announced that they would host the Cup final if they get past the Union.
“It’s a massive game – a big semifinal and a chance to win a trophy,” defender Matt Besler said after the Dynamo game. “But we aren’t looking past the first step, and that’s Philadelphia. Obviously they took it to us a couple weeks ago and we want that revenge. We want to bring this club some silverware, and Wednesday is a great time to start.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.