CHESTER, Pa. — Fabinho cringed at the memory.
“I remember it because I put everything into it,” the veteran left back said, recalling the 1-1 (7-6) penalty kick defeat to Sporting Kansas City in the 2015 U.S. Open Cup final. “My wife tried to help me but I cried for three days in a row.”
It’s a common sentiment for those that recall the Union’s back-to-back 2014 and 2015 Open Cup final losses. But after taking down the Chicago Fire, 3-0, in the Open Cup semifinals on Wednesday at Talen Energy Stadium (see observations), the opportunity to cure that misery has presented itself for the club.
“To be honest, there’s still a bitter taste in my mouth,” said Union goalkeeper Andre Blake, who, along with Ray Gaddis and Richie Marquez, also lost to the Seattle Sounders, 3-1, in 2014. “We’ve been there two years in a row. I think this time, the third time, hopefully we can get it right.”
Reaching the final again presents a unique situation for the Union, who will see their third appearance in five seasons. The two infamous losses were at home, but the next one will be away — the Union’s first away match of the tournament.
“Any time a different team comes in your home ground and gets to celebrate and you have to watch them, it’s always a horrible feeling,” said Blake, whose club faces the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. “We get a chance to go somewhere else and celebrate on someone else’s pitch. It’s gonna be great. I think all the guys are looking forward to it.”
They’re also looking to avoid infamy. Three final losses in five years would make the Union the Buffalo Bills of the modern Open Cup, something they’d desperately like to avoid.
“Don’t say that,” Union manager Jim Curtin shot out, when presented with the possibility of becoming the Bills, who lost four straight Super Bowls. “We’ve had about as heartbreaking of losses as we could’ve had in those two. I still believe it makes you stronger. Certain types of people that would say, I don’t want to get to a final game because you could have that Buffalo Bills thing come up. But you can’t operate like that in life. You have to go for it.”
It’s that hungry-dog mentality that could give the Union the edge — and first-ever trophy.
“In soccer, to have a chance to be champions, you cannot lose,” Fabinho said. “You have to play like it’s the last game of your life. That’s how we have to treat anyone we play against. Everybody has to have this mentality to win it this year.”