THE UNION notably struggles against FC Dallas, and even during its recent surge under the direction of interim manager Jim Curtin, the club's lone MLS loss came against the foe from North Texas.
But if the franchise is to win its first trophy, the Union will need to get past Dallas tonight in the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Philadelphia enters the 9 p.m. game at Toyota Stadium with a 0-3-4 all-time record against Dallas in league games.
A win would propel it to its first U.S. Open Cup championship match, which would be held Sept. 13 at PPL Park. The Seattle Sounders and Chicago Fire play tomorrow in the other semifinal. One of 16 MLS teams in the annual tournament, the Union defeated the Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro Division), New York Cosmos (NASL) and New England Revolution en route to tonight's game.
Coming off Saturday's 2-1 home win against Montreal and with a Friday night game at Houston looming, this is the second of three games in a 7-day stretch for the Union. The team is spending the rest of the week in Texas ahead of Friday's meeting with the Dynamo.
"We're not going to make excuses. We have a deep squad now; if you look at the bench, we have hundreds and hundreds of games of experience, so that's a positive to come in and close out games," Curtin said. "There's competition in training like you wouldn't believe for spots right now."
Curtin said after Saturday's game that midfielder Cristian Maidana, sidelined since July 16 with a hamstring injury, is close to returning. With so many games in such a short period of time, it will be interesting to see how Curtin continues to manage the lineup.
"We have three games now in a very short time period, and we have guys on the bench that can play and would be starters for a lot of other teams in this league," Curtin said. "A guy like Fabinho, who is kind of the odd man out [on defense] and he's been a pro about it, he can come in and play and he will play a role going forward; whether it's [tonight] or Friday, he will play role down the road."
Now 6-8-9, the Union entered this week tied for the Eastern Conference's fifth and final spot for MLS postseason play. Dallas (10-7-6) is third in the Western Conference, and defeated Philadelphia, 2-1, on July 4.