Watch: Union Win U.S. Open Cup Semifinal
Soccer is a weird sport. Example one: The worst team in the league gets to play for a championship.
This isn’t like your rec basketball league, where everyone makes the playoffs — soccer leagues have concurrent knockout cup competitions that run alongside the regular season. And after last night’s victory over the Chicago Fire, the Philadelphia Union are in the finals of the U.S. Open Cup.
The Union are actually next to last in the Eastern Conference, and they do have the fewest points per game in the league. No matter. Sebastien Le Toux’s goal in the 74th minute was all the Union needed to win their semifinal matchup. The Fire had just two shots on goal all game. The team hosts Sporting Kansas City in the final on September 30th.
This is the Union’s second consecutive trip to the Open Cup Final. Last year, the Union missed some late chances in regulation and lost in extra time. At the time, then-interim manager Jim Curtin was expected to be replaced, and the run through the Open Cup was expected to be a sign of good things for the next season. Curtin has had the interim tag removed. The Union are worse in the MLS Standings than last season, but they’re excelling in U.S. Open Cup again. This is the third time in four seasons the team has reached the semifinals.
Le Toux, the all-time leading Open Cup scorer since MLS teams began playing in the tournament, scored his 16th Open Cup goal. “It’s just a trophy you can win and it’s just five games, and I gave it 100 percent,” he said. “And I get lucky, tonight was a night I got lucky.”
If that happens one more time for the Union, the team will have its first trophy in its six-year history.