CHESTER, Pa. — Although their roster has turned over quite a bit in the past three years, the Philadelphia Union players who’ve remained think often of the agony of losing back-to-back U.S. Open Cup finals in 2014 and 2015.
“It’s a great feeling [to be back in the final],” goalkeeper Andre Blake told MLSsoccer.com. “But, to be honest, there’s still a bitter taste in my mouth. We’ve been so close, two years in a row. We took the lead two years in a row and watched it slip away. So I think this time, the third time, hopefully we can get it right.”
The Union left little doubt on their march to the 2018 title game, coming alive in the second half to win their fourth straight home game in convincing fashion.
But they’ll now have to go on the road for the first time this tournament, where they’ll try to avoid being the “Buffalo Bills,” as one reporter put it in Jim Curtin’s postgame press conference, with a third championship loss in five years.
“Don’t say that,” Curtin said with a smile. “Listen, it’s hard to get a final, so you cherish these moments. It’s always different teams, so there’s different memories and different hurdles that you have to take along each Open Cup run. … There’s certain types of people that would say, ‘I don’t want to get to a final game because you could have that Buffalo Bills thing come up.’ But you can’t operate like that in life. You have to go for it.”
Union captain Alejandro Bedoya was playing at FC Nantes when the Union lost to the Seattle Sounders, in extra time, in the 2014 final and Sporting Kansas City, on penalty kicks, the following year — both at home.
But he’s still been especially motivated to help the Union lift their first trophy. And he showed it on Wednesday with a pair of assists, including a spectacular pass on the first of Cory Burke’s two goals.
“It’s only four or five games and you’re in a final and can get a trophy,” Bedoya said. “We’ve put a lot into it. I guess we’ve shown a little bit of our depth with guys stepping onto the field and getting the job done.”
Bedoya’s partner in the central midfield, Haris Medunjanin, also wasn’t around for Philly’s recent Open Cup near-triumphs. But, like the Union, the 33-year-old will also be looking to capture a first championship.
“I came here to win some trophies,” Medunjanin said, “and now we have the opportunity.”