U.S Open Cup Preview: Union vs Rhinos

Cup Football is often the most exciting form. From the FA Cup in the UK to the Champions League, it offers a factor of unpredictability and a chances for underdogs to pull off some of sports greatest tales. The U.S Open Cup is no exception and Cup fever is sweeping Philadelphia ahead of tomorrows 4th round matchup between The Union and the Rochester Rhinos. Here’s everything you need to know ahead of tomorrows match!

1) Why should you be interested?

Well..why shouldn’t you would be a more appropriate question! Season ticket member? Tickets are FREE..parking? FREE.. unpredictable football, a chance to see your favourite players in an entirely different atmosphere and of course if they win..Philly is one step closer to another city miracle.

2) How does this affect the first team for their LA Galaxy Fixture?

Andre Blake will be the reserve keeper behind hometown hero McCarthy in the fixture, allowing the Union to rotate if needed. McCarthy will be facing his former club and seems the most likely to start. Vitoria returned to training earlier today so if he’s at 90% health..match fitness may just help him return to his best. You don’t want to drop a returning player in at the deep end..this is the perfect way to warm him back up. The game against LA is obviously important and Curtin will be aware of the choice in hand. Do you risk dropping three due to fatigue or progress one round further in a domestic cup? Expect to see a few change arounds come 7.30PM with some of the more important players sitting on the bench.

3) The Rochester who?

Just because they’re not Seattle, it doesn’t mean they’re not very intimidating. The Rhinos are undefeated in the USL so far, boasting a league best 8-0-4 record. Defensively they are very solid. Not only have the (Unicorns..Rhinos..pandas?) allowed only 4 goals in 12 games, but they have allowed just 5.4 shots per game this year, with the Union ranking 16th in the MLS for shots taken..the attackers may find it tough to score past the USL leaders and will have to make the aerial crosses work consistently.

4) Secret Weapon Seb

Whilst the lineups may well rotate, it’s a solid bet that the in form Sebastian Le Toux plays. Not only is he banging them recently but Le Toux is the all-time leading goal scorer in the modern era of the competition, scoring 14. Something tells me he may well make that 15 in this fixture.

5) Downtime

So even if Coach Curtin doesn’t approach this game with every intention of winning the overall prize, it provides some much deserved downtime for the squad.Two games away from the spotlight allows the starting eleven to let their hair down..unless your Fabinho, have fun and enjoy the beautiful game as well as taking a much deserved break and refocussing ahead of Saturdays fixture.

6) Prediction

Whilst Rochester are not to be underestimated and the Union are more than likely to rotate their squad, I can see the Union picking up a very narrow win. Their recent MLS form has been fantastic and despite a recent loss, confidence will be flowing with the football that is being played. The Rhinos come into the game with a great record and some great talent, but the Union would love to go into the weekend with a win. A returning Vitoria and squad depth that would intimidate even the bravest MLS coach should see the Union ride the win at about 75% effort..but, this is the cup. Anything can happen.


Philadelphia Union 1-0 Rochester Rhinos

Bonus point!) Coaching Connections

So it’s not a huge factor in the game, but the Rhinos head coach Bob Lilley knows a thing or two about the Union..having previously coached PA Classics..the origin of Andrew Wenger’s career.