Jim Curtin strode into the media room for his United States Open Cup (USOC) semi-final post-game press conference, a smile upon his face.
“You guys have heard me ad nauseum about 1-0 games,” Curtin, the Philadelphia Union manager, said to reporters, “but, for whatever reason in this competition, we show true grit, determination, fight and quality in front of goal.”
Curtin’s squad head to its second straight USOC final after defeating the Chicago Fire on a goal scored by Sebastien Le Toux. The converted winger created space for himself at the top of the box in the 74′, cutting from right to left before using his left foot to slot his shot to Sean Johnson’s left. The ball curled slightly toward the right post, striking it and beating Johnson, the Fire goalkeeper.
“He’s had a heck of a run in this competition,” Curtin said of Le Toux. “[He] came up in a big spot for us. We’ve had moments where we’ve created a ton of chances and it just won’t go in for you… and then Seba makes that play. We were in such control of the game.”
The goal came about as part of a thoroughly dominate game by the Union, as they held the Fire to just three shots, two on target, in 90 minutes of play. For their part, the Union attempted nine shots, though only three were on goal. In the end only Le Toux’s late game opportunity and finish mattered.
“Tonight it’s about the positives. It’s amazing to get back. We did it and I couldn’t be prouder of our players. To stick together as a group, I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
The former Major League Soccer central defender had departed the field of play to fans singing “we want the cup,” adding to the atmosphere of the game that Curtin credited as influential to the end result.
“I’d like to thank the fans, especially in the River End,” Curtin said. “They were excellent tonight. They were very loud. You get into the 85′ minute and the guys are fatigued a bit, and you hear the ‘we want the cup’ chants and it helps push them on.”
Due to Sporting Kansas City’s 3-1 victory over Real Salt Lake, which concluded an hour after the Union game, Philadelphia will host SKC on Sept. 30, TBD, at PPL Park. A seeding draw by the United States Soccer Federation determined hosting prior to the semi-final stage of the tournament.