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Philadelphia Union Defeat Dallas to Host Open Cup Final

Phialdelphia Union

courtesy Philadelphia Union Twitter/@philaunion

It took 120 minutes of soccer plus penalty kicks to set up the Philadelphia Union for their first ever trophy. In just their fifth season the Union will host the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final on September 16th at PPL Park. The opponent will be determined Wednesday night when the Seattle Sounders host Chicago Fire. Zac MacMath was the hero in goal for Philly as he made several big saves and was dominant inside his penalty area all night. Aside from one major mistake which gifted FC Dallas a late equalizer MacMath was the man of the match. He saved two penalties in the shootout after regulation and extra time produced a stalemate.

Both clubs fielded strong lineups, though Union interim manager Jim Curtin inserted defensive midfielders Amobi Okugo and Michael Lahoud into the lineup in place of Carlos Valdes, who just returned from loan in South America, and Captain Brian Carroll. The match also saw the return of midfielder Cristian Maidana, who replaced Sebastien LeToux in extra time. Maidana has been nursing a hamstring injury since a match against New York Red Bulls on July 16th. Dallas has struggled with injuries all season and last night coach Oscar Pareja had to make all three substitutions before the whistle blew to start the second half. The first half was mostly uneventful but the Union had the better scoring chances. Dallas defender Walker Zimmerman was forced to leave in the 37th minute with a groin injury. Pareja was forced to remove midfielders Adam Moffat and Mauro Diaz at halftime due to injuries.

While the first half was quiet, the second half started quickly as the Union took advantage of the new players on the field for Dallas. Okugo scored in the 47th minute from a pass by LeToux after a Vincent Nogueira free kick. Dallas began finding their feet and threatened the Union goal more frequently. Dallas also had a healthy possession advantage was able to begin controlling the game. After some back and forth play Dallas finally broke through as MacMath came way off his line but was too slow in getting to the ball. Fabian Castillo got to the ball first, just outside the penalty area and went around MacMath to slide it into an empty net. The Union had more of the play in extra time but could not find the winner. Both teams made their first two penalty kicks and then MacMath stoned Dallas forward Blas Perez. Maidana and captain Maurice Edu made their kicks and the pressure fell to Dallas midfielder Victor Ulloa as he stepped up to take Dallas’ fifth kick. As Dallas kicked first he needed to make his shot, but MacMath was equal to the task and sealed the victory for the Union.

It wasn’t pretty but it was tense and it was another good effort by Philadelphia and now they will host the final with the opportunity to win their first trophy in club history.

Adam Stefanik is a writer for Stoppage Time Soccer. Follow him on Twitter @AdamSGT36.

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