PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It has already been a very good trip to Texas for the Philadelphia Union and they will try to make it an outstanding one on Friday night when they visit the Houston Dynamo in MLS action.
On Tuesday night Philadelphia beat FC Dallas in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup in Frisco, Texas. The match was even 1-1 at the end of extra time, but the Union won, 4-3, in penalty kicks.
That victory moved the Union into the Open Cup final for the first time in franchise history. On September 16th, they will host the Seattle Sounders in Chester. Seattle beat up the Chicago Fire in the other semi-final on Wednesday night, 6-0.
“Being here from the beginning, I’m very grateful to be able to play at PPL Park for a trophy,” Union midfielder Amobi Okugo, who scored the Union’s goal in run of play against FC Dallas, tells KYW Newsradio. “You can’t even put into words. We were close in 2012 in the semis, but now we have the chance to actually hoist the cup, in a final, at home. It’s just a great feeling.”
After a rough start, Philadelphia has played well here as of late. In addition to the Open Cup run, they are 3-1-3 in MLS action since Jim Curtin took over as interim team manager.
“We’re finally coming together as a team,” Okugo says. “Coach Jim Curtin’s done a great job just putting guys in spots where we can succeed as a team. Luckily for us, we’re finally doing that and gaining confidence with each win, each positive result. We’re just trying to keep it forward, stay above the red line in terms of playoffs and hopefully hoist the trophy in the Open Cup final.”
Overall this season, Philadelphia is 6-8-9 (27 points) in MLS action and that has them right in the middle of the playoff race. The Dynamo will bring a 6-12-4 ledger (22 points) into Friday night.
“Houston’s a team that always makes those late runs into the playoffs,” Okugo says. “With the two key signings they made, with the two (designated players), they raised their level a little bit. This is going to be a six-pointer game where we can increase our standing, separate, in terms of where they are in the table compared to us. Hopefully we can get the result.”
Okugo says two games in one week in the Texas heat is quite the challenge.
“Yeah, as you can see from the game (on Tuesday) we had a bunch of tired legs,” Okugo says. “Luckily we have a lot of depth. This Texas heat is something else. You’ve got to deal with the heat and then the humidity as well.”
The Union and the Dynamo get underway at 9:00pm on Friday night.