Union leaning on White's Open Cup experience

Union leaning on White's Open Cup experience
August 12, 2014, 10:30 am

Union defender Ethan White is looking to win his second U.S. Open Cup, having won last year with DC United. (USA Today Images)

CHESTER, Pa. -- After winning the U.S. Open Cup last season with DC United, 23-year-old Ethan White is more experienced than most when it comes to claiming the tournament’s elusive trophy.

That means he knows exactly what type of effort is needed from the Union if they plan on getting past red-hot FC Dallas on Tuesday night at Toyota Park and advancing to the Open Cup title game against either the Chicago Fire or Seattle Sounders.

“It’ll be hot, but it’s for a trophy, so I’m sure we’ll grind it out and put everything we’ve got into it,” White said following the Union’s win over the Montreal Impact on Saturday. “I’m sure we’ll do the right things to do it, ice baths and short practices. But we’ve got to put everything we’ve got in it.”

While assisting his club to an Open Cup championship in 2013 was a career highlight for White, it was a turning point for the United. The worst team in MLS in 2013, Ben Olsen’s club is 11-7-4 this season and has a spot in the CONCACAF Champion’s League.

“They’re playing in the Champions League now,” he said. “I would love for this club to have a trophy and to be playing in Champions League next year.”

But they have to get through FC Dallas first.

Led by the well-rounded attack of Michel, Blas Perez and Fabian Castillo, FC Dallas is unbeaten in its last 11 games, going 8-0-3 during that span. The club is coming off a win over the Carolina RailHawks and Houston Dynamo in Open Cup play and hasn’t lost a league or Open Cup match since May 31 against the San Jose Earthquakes.

In the last match against the Union, FC Dallas used an own-goal from Fabinho and Sheanon Williams for the 2-1 win on July 4 at Toyota Stadium.

“Last time, we played well enough to get a result,” Williams said. “They are a team that’s in form, they are a team we know can play and has good players that can break down defenses.”

Aside from the addition of center back Carlos Valdes and potentially getting playmaker Cristian Maidana back from injury, the Union will be aided in their road effort by the feeling of having some unfinished business.

“We’re excited, it’s a semifinal and we’ve been there before,” said Williams, who recalled the Union’s semifinal loss to Sporting Kansas City back in 2012. “Unfortunately we were on the wrong side of it the last time, so guys are excited.”

The Union are also familiar playing in important games. With a 6-8-9 record and hanging tough in a weak Eastern Conference, the Union are just a couple losses from dropping out of the race, making Tuesday’s elimination match just another game.

“Every game for us is a playoff game,” White said. “Every game is a must-win, and Tuesday is a must win. The East is tight. And we’ve got to keep getting points, and we’ve got to keep getting wins in the Open Cup. For now, everything’s a must-win.”

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