When the Union meet the New York Red Bulls in Wednesday's Round of 16 U.S. Open Cup game at Talen Energy Stadium, the teams will have a difficult time topping the drama that occurred in their U.S. Open Cup game last year.
The Union won that quarterfinal, 4-3, on penalty kicks after the teams played to a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes in regulation and overtime.
It was one of the wildest games, especially since the Union played two-thirds of the contest a man down after Conor Casey earned a red card in the 40th minute.
What kept the Union in the game was the goalkeeping of John McCarthy, who made several big saves, including a stop of a Lloyd Sam shot in the penalty-kick segment.
Adding to the uniqueness, that Tuesday game started at 4 p.m. because Red Bull Arena was hosting an International Champions Cup game between Paris Saint-Germain and AC Fiorentina that evening.
"They had a lot of the ball, and we dodged bullets and showed a good fight, and John did a great job with the penalty kicks," Union coach Jim Curtin said.
The Union, who received a goal by Erik Ayuk in the 55th minute, would have won in regulation had they not allowed the equalizer late in second half stoppage time to Sam.
Curtin said he is certain that Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch will be playing his regulars in this game. And Curtin, with one or two exceptions, plans to do the same.
"We will both put our best lineups out there," Curtin said.
Of course, health will be a factor. For instance Union forward C.J. Sapong has hasn't played since June 1 due to a sprained ankle and remains questionable.
"You may see a change or two but not one where we rest five or six guys," Curtin said. "I think it is proven in the league, when you rest five or six starters, you lose in MLS these days."
One change could come in goal. McCarthy's only appearance this year came in the Union's first Open Cup game, a 3-2 win over the Harrisburg City Islanders. (All MLS teams receive a bye into the fourth round). Andre Blake, who has allowed nine goals in his last three games might be able to use a breather.
The Open Cup is open to all affiliated amateur and professional teams in the United States.
The Union have shown how seriously they take this tournament by advancing to the finals (and losing) each of the last two years.
The Red Bulls, among the Union's main rivals, certainly will remember last year and will have some extra motivation.
"Anytime you are able to play against a rival and advance in a tournament it is probably going to make them hungrier," Union midfielder Brian Carroll said. "But it is a new year and a new tournament, and we take pride in the tournament to do well, and that is what we are going to do and I expect nothing less from them."
Alberg named MLS player of the week
Union midfielder Roland Alberg has been named Major League Soccer's player of the week. Alberg, 25, had three goals in Wednesday's 4-3 win over the Chicago Fire, becoming only the second player in the club's seven-year history to score a hat trick.
He added a goal in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps.
The award is voted on by the North American Soccer Reporters.
Alberg, who joined the Union this year from ADO Den Haag of the Dutch Eredivisie, has scored in three consecutive MLS games and is tied for second on the team with five goals.
He is the second Union to player to win the player of the week award this year, with Chris Pontius also earning the award.