For the 3rd consecutive season, Philadelphia Union is heading back to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. And while I don’t want to get ahead of myself – Philly is just 2 wins away from not only earning the right to host MLS Cup at Subaru Park but having the shot at revenge as well.
Union is two wins away from hosting MLS Cup!
Let me be clear – Union needs to put their focus on FC Cincinnati and only FC Cincinnati right now – the next game is always the most important, and getting past the Supporters Shield winners on the road will be no small task. But it’s hard to ignore the possibility of hosting MLS Cup at home.
If Union can somehow manage to advance through the East and make it two consecutive Cup Final appearances, because Union ended the regular season 5th in the Supporters Shield standings behind only St Louis from the Western Conference – who’s already exited the playoffs – Philadelphia will hold the right to host over any team in the West.
The opportunity to lift the trophy at home would come just one season after the Union’s heartbreaking last-minute loss in their first MLS Cup Final appearance in club history. LAFC was granted not only the Supporters Shield but the right to host over Philadelphia due to a tiebreak in the Supporters Shield standings.
Philly would face off against either of the four teams that have won a final against them
For many fans, winning the MLS Cup at home is probably one of the only things that’ll truly ever heal what this team has put them through over the years. But on top of that, any of the opponents Union could face in the final would be a team that’s previously beaten Philadelphia in a competition final – Seattle (Us Open Cup ’14), SKC (US Open Cup ‘15), Houston (US Open Cup ‘18), and LAFC (MLS Cup ‘22). And oh how sweet revenge can be.
Let me just say it again – one game at a time. Winning in Cincinnati has to be the only focus for this team right now. But at the same time, every team finds little storylines to blow out of proportion, using them as a piece of motivation to help push them through a highly competitive post-season.
Winning the next two on the road won’t be an easy feat – especially while missing Jakob Glesnes and Kai Wagner – but this team seems to play best with their backs against the wall. They band together and find motivation to punch above what others think they can achieve, and I’m not sure I could find a storyline more motivating than getting the opportunity to lift MLS Cup at home against a team that’s kept you from lifting a trophy in the past.
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union