CHESTER, Pa. – Philadelphia Union center back Ethan White knows what it takes to win the US Open Cup.
Last year, White put in a strong shift to help D.C. United shut out Real Salt Lake on the road as United earned an upset victory in the Open Cup championship game.
Now, White wants to continue his streak and win another one for the Union, who will host the title game with a win over FC Dallas in a USOC semifinal match on Tuesday night at Toyota Stadium (9 pm ET).
“That would be unbelievable,” White said. “I want to catch James Riley. I think he has six or seven now.”
Riley, a teammate of White’s last year with D.C., is actually a five-time Open Cup champion, but catching him will still be very hard.
For White to win his second, after all, the Union will have to do something they’ve never before done in franchise history: beat FC Dallas.
The Union are 0-3-4 all-time against Dallas, and Philly’s only loss since Jim Curtin took over as interim manager two months was against Oscar Pareja’s side on July 4.
“Last time, we played well enough there to get a result and unfortunately we didn’t,” said Union right back Sheanon Williams. “They are a team that’s in form, they are a team we know can play and has good players that can break down defenses. We’ll have to be compact again defensively and complete a couple more passes.”
Adding to the Union’s challenge is the fact that they traveled to Dallas on Monday, just two days after Saturday’s win against Montreal, and will stay in Texas for a league game against Houston on Friday.
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But while they’re not excited about the Texas heat, they have dealt with short turnarounds for Open Cup games before, beating the Harrisburg City Islanders, New York Cosmos and New England Revolution to advance to the semifinals of the tournament for the second time in three years.
“It will be hot, but it’s for a trophy,” White said. “So I’m sure we’ll grind it out and put everything we’ve got into it.”
And the chance to play in – and host – the first title game in the franchise’s five-year history is all the motivation they’ll need.
“We’ll treat it as big of a game as we’ve had,” Williams said. “If we get to the finals, that’s probably the biggest game in this club’s history.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.