It all comes down to this, the 2018 US Open Cup Final. The Houston Dynamo and Philadelphia Union beat out all of their challengers to be the last two standing in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The winner of the U.S. Open Cup will get $300,000 while the runner up gets $100,000. The winner will also earn a spot in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League.
How did they get here?
Houston faced amateur club NTX Rayados in the fourth round in the competition, when MLS teams entered the tournament. The Dynamo scored five goals in the second half for a 5-0 victory that put them into the Round of 16. Next they faced Minnesota United, a fellow MLS club, who they defeated 1-0 thanks to a goal from Mauro Manotas. A month later they played Sporting Kansas City in a game that saw braces from Mauro Manotas and Romell Quioto. They won the game 4-2 and advanced to the semifinals.
They looked in control of the semifinal against LAFC leading for much of the game after going down an goal in the sixth minute. By the 75th minute they had a 3-1 lead after goals from Andrew Wenger, Manotas and Memo Rodriguez. Then Diego Rossi scored his second goal of the in the 78th minute to pull LAFC within one goal. In the fifth minute of stoppage Rossi scored again to tie the game. With the score tied as the final whistle blew the game went to penalty kicks. The game went through seven rounds of penalty kicks before Houston’s Joe Willis sealed the win for Houston saving a shot from Latif Blessing. The win in the semifinals meant that Houston would head to a USOC final for the first time.
The Union entered the Open Cup to take on the Richmond Kickers and walked away with a 5-0 win. In the Round of 16 they faced the New York Red Bulls and thanks to goals from Haris Medunjanin and Cory Burke they walked away the 2-1 winners. The goal scored by the Red Bulls is the only goal they have given up this tournament. Next, it was Orlando City SC who came to town for the USOC tournament. Alejandro Bedoya’s fourth minute goal was all that was needed for the Union to get the win as the game ended with a 1-0 scoreline. That win advanced them to the semifinals were they faced the Chicago Fire. Cory Burke scored a brace in the second half that was capped off with a 86th minute goal from CJ Sapong to give the Union a 3-0 win.
The MLS regular season has been suboptimal for the Dynamo. They had been on a regular season winless streak that lasted from July 14 until September 15 when they beat the Portland Timbers. They have dropped to tenth in the Western Conference standings. On Saturday they tied Orlando City 0-0 in a lackluster road game in which they started many of their regular players.
The Union have won their last two games including their Saturday victory over Sporting Kansas City when they rested a number of their starting players. They currently sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and have won 14 games this season.
How can they win?
Mauro Manotas has been killer in the USOC and has scored four goals in the 2018 tournament. USOC is a competition that the young forward thrives in and is the Dynamo all time top goal scorer with seven goals.
Both teams have spent the tournament playing at home, but it’s Houston that will host the final. Historically, Houston have been strong at home while faltering on the road. But Houston has never made it to a USOC final much less won one while the Union have made the final but failed to win the final game.
Regardless of who scores the most on Wednesday night the Open Cup will be crowning a first time winner.
Houston Dynamo vs Philadelphia Union
BBVA Compass Stadium
Wednesday at September 26 at 7 pm CT