Despite it being an MLS vs. NASL game, part of me considers the Cosmos favorites in this one. They're playing extremely well (19 goals for, 3 goals against in 11 games) this year, including a 3-0 demolition of the New York Red Bulls on June 14 that was more lopsided than even the score indicates. They have MLS-level talent at several positions and are really aggressive throughout the field. If they bring the same tenacity to Tuesday's game that they did against the Red Bulls, I like their chances.
That's because Philadelphia continues to struggle. Just 3-7-6 in league play, the Union needed a last-minute goal from Maurice Edu to force overtime against struggling third-tier team Harrisburg last week, and while they did rally to win, they have been anything but convincing. Their chances will significantly improve, in my view, if striker Conor Casey is healthy enough to play and if Frenchman Sebastien Le Toux gets the starting nod; he was at the heart of every significant Union chance against Harrisburg after coming off the bench.
I've really enjoyed meeting and hearing from both head coaches - New York-area soccer legend Giovanni Savarese, a former Venezuelan international for the Cosmos and Villanova grad and former MLS defender Jim Curtin for Philadelphia, where he is the interim manager. I've also got friendly faces on either side, having worked with Union midfielder Danny Cruz and Cosmos defender Hunter Freeman when I worked in Houston.
Whoever wins will host a quarterfinal on July 8, a game I plan to attend and hope to work no matter who hosts, and I'm excited to see this one tonight.
|Place||8th/10 MLS East||2nd/NASL|
|Scoring||22-27 = -5
||14-3 = +11|
|Leading scorer||Sebastien Le Toux 4
Conor Casey 4
|Mads Stokkelien 3 (+2)|
|Assist leader||Cristian Maidana 6||Mads Stokkelien 3 (+1)|
|First season||2010||2013 fall|
|Open Cup history||5-2, 4-1 home||2-0, 0-0 away|