CHESTER, Pa. – In the final minutes of the Philadelphia Union’s 3-0 victory against Toronto FC on Sunday, when the outcome of the game was no longer in question, fans in the River End section of PPL Park turned their attention to another matter.
Their chant could be heard loud and clear, throughout the entire stadium: "We want the Cup. Gotta have that Cup."
The US Open Cup, that is.
“That was pretty cool,” Union interim manager John Hackworth said. “We’ve been talking a lot about it internally and it’s been on our minds for a long time. So to have the fans chant that at the end of the game, it was really special.”
With the entire organization and their fans buzzing with anticipation, the Union continue the quest for their first trophy when they host Sporting Kansas City in a US Open Cup semifinal matchup Wednesday at PPL Park (7:30 pm ET, streamed live at philadelphiaunion.com).
Interestingly enough, the Union walloped SKC, 4-0, in league play two weeks ago. But for Hackworth & Co., that certainly doesn’t mean they have an advantage over their visitors, who currently sit in first place in the Eastern Conference and will be looking for a little dose of PPL Park revenge.
“I just recently went back and looked at that game again against KC, for the fourth time, and it was not a 4-0 game,” Hackworth said. “They were really good in that game. There were a lot of moments in that game where they could have gotten back into it right away. Fortunately for us, we did an excellent job not to give up a goal.”
Hackworth also noted that Sporting Kansas City will likely be motivated by the fact that, with a win, they will definitely host the US Open Cup final. The Union, meanwhile, will only host the finals if Chivas USA beat Seattle in the other USOC semifinal matchup.
“I’m sure that message has been passed along to their players and staff,” Hackworth said. “But guess what? They’re coming to play at PPL Park [Wednesday] night and that, to me, gives us a huge advantage because we feel a different energy in this stadium. And it’s something we take great pride in.”
The Union also have a little bit of momentum – and confidence – working in their favor as they come into the game fresh off back-to-back league wins over the Galaxy and Toronto. Can they keep it going and move one step closer to a championship?
“We understand it’s a massive privilege to get to the semifinal,” Hackworth said. “But we’re not satisfied with that. We want to make it to the final. We want to win the whole thing.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.