Two more wins and the Philadelphia Union will have secured the first hardware in their brief history.
The Union dispatched the Harrisburg City Islanders 5-2 in the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup last night at PPL Park in Chester. They advanced to face Sporting Kansas City in the semifinals on July 11 also at PPL Park. Ironically, the Union defeated Sporting Kansas City 4-0 in league action last Saturday night.
“We definitely want the first trophy to put in the case,” said Union midfielder Freddy Adu. “We’re hungry for it. We’ve had some ups and downs this season and it’s a great thing to be among the final four teams left.”
The Union jumped out to a 3-0 lead, watched the City Islanders get within 3-2 and then put the game away with two late goals by Lionard Pajoy and Gabriel Gomez.
In a season with mixed results – a 3-8-2 record and a recent coaching change with John Hackworth stepping in on an interim basis for Peter Nowak – advancing to the semifinals is beyond huge.
“I think we’re all very excited and we want it to continue,” said forward Jack McInerney, who scored a goal after netting two goals in last Saturday’s win against Sporting Kansas City. “I think we’re playing with a lot of confidence and guys are playing loose and relaxed.”
The City Islanders had beaten the New York Red Bulls in extra time. They had also defeated the New England Revolution in penalty kicks after overcoming a 3-0 deficit with three goals in the second half of stoppage time.
Harrisburg proved its mettle once again by erasing a 3-0 deficit with two quick goals. On this night, the Union were able to pull away.
Survive and advance they did.
“The floodgates opened and we walked through,” Adu said. “I said that earlier this season that once the floodgates opened, we’d be in good shape. That happened again and it’s great to see. We’re closing in on a trophy and we all want to put one in the case.”