For the third straight year the Red Bulls are taking on the Philadelphia Union in the fourth round of the prestigious U.S. Open Cup tournament. But this time, the Red Bulls get to play host to their Eastern Conference foes.
We spoke with Eugene Rupinski, who gave us some important facts about DOOP as they make their first appearance at Red Bull Arena this year.
OaM: Even with a game in hand, if the season ended today the Union would miss the playoffs (as would the Red Bulls) and Jim Curtin might be fired. Would a deep run in the U.S. Open Cup be enough to safe his job?
Eugene R.: I'm not fully convinced Jim Curtin is on the hot seat regardless of the play of the Union. Most clubs would have fired their manager somewhere along the way when the club was winless in sixteen straight games spanning nine calendar months. Since then the club has won five and lost three and seem to have turned things around a bit, so I don't think he's in danger of being let go at the moment. Now obviously that could change - if the club plummets into another double-digit winless streak he may very well be shown the door.
OaM: The Union have made it to the Open Cup Semi-Finals or better in three of the last five years, and have made it to the Final twice under Jim Curtin. Is there a secret to the Union's success in the tournament?
Eugene R.: I think they take it seriously from start to finish whereas not all teams do. The Union won't run out many USL guys, instead opting to go with a lineup of starters with perhaps a few bench guys rotated in simply to keep legs fresh throughout the season. The Union also realize that it's just one game and that even if their season isn't going as well as they'd hoped, if they can just win that one game they get to keep that hope alive that much longer.
OaM: Are there any players on the Union you fear you might be forced to part with in the transfer windows?
Is there anyone specifically who I think is going to be traded or sold when the transfer window opens? No not really. Do I think the Union would trade or sell someone when the transfer window opens if the price is right? Absolutely. I don't see why they wouldn't be willing to sell off a player or two if they got a good enough offer for that player. Yes it will suck losing a player - especially if it's a top caliber player. But MLS' standing as a decent enough league that pays rather well and the global availability of players means it's relatively easy for even top tier MLS players to be replaced. It's not like they're Real Madrid and would face the task of trying to replace Cristiano Ronaldo - they'd need to find a good MLS-level (or better) player and bring him in.