FRISCO, Texas – One step from an opportunity to win a championship on home turf, to lift the trophy named after the club's former owner.
The stakes are high for FC Dallas as they take on the Philadelphia Union in the semifinal of the 2014 US Open Cup at Toyota Stadium on Tuesday evening (9 pm ET).
“This is the biggest week of the season,” said veteran midfielder Adam Moffat. “Mentally, we just got to keep doing what we’re doing. We know what is at stake. We know there is a trophy at the end.”
Dallas come into the match without a loss in their last 11 games across all competitions, including three Open Cup wins. Philadelphia are rolling along themselves, having won three and tied three since the teams last met on July 4, a match FC Dallas won 2-1. That game may not be a fair barometer for how the teams match up, however, as travel issues kept the Union from getting to Dallas until the day of the match, leading to some heavy legs for the visitors.
“They have been getting confidence with some results,” head coach Oscar Pareja said. “That's the way we see Philadelphia, honestly. It's going to be a difficult match for sure.”
What makes this opportunity so special is that the location for the final has already been determined. On top of the pressure that accompanies a win-or-go-home match, the winner of Tuesday's game is playing to host the final in front of their home fans.
“The way the coin toss went, to play at home for a chance to play a final at home – you don’t get that often, so that’s extra motivation for us,” Moffat said.
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Like his teammates, Moffat is hungry for a championship, as the Scot has been at the precipice of a championship twice in recent seasons, when he was a member of the Houston Dynamo during their MLS Cup final appearances in 2011 and 2012. Jair Benitez, Zach Loyd, and George John are the only players remaining who featured in FC Dallas' 2010 MLS Cup, the last time the club made the final of a major competition.
But before they dream of lifting the trophy, another hurdle remains: just getting there.
“I’m happy that we’ve set out on winning it, straight from the get-go,” Moffat said. “You want to win stuff. Everyone wants to win, but not everyone gets to win. Any time you get that opportunity, you want to take advantage of it.”