The Final of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, U.S. Soccer's National Championship, will be broadcast on ESPN2 and Univision Deportes Network (UDN) beginning at 8 p.m. ET/7 CT on Wednesday, Sept. 26.
The match, hosted by the Houston Dynamo at the BBVA Compass Stadium, features the home team in its first U.S. Open Cup Final in club history against the visiting Philadelphia Union, who are back for a third Final in five years. A victory will be an historic first Open Cup title for the winning club. The winner will also collect $300,000 and earn a direct berth to the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League. The runner-up will receive $100,000.
Chester, Pa.-based Philadelphia Union reached the Open Cup Final in 2014 and 2015, losing to the Seattle Sounders in extra time and Sporting Kansas City in a shootout, respectively. A pair of semifinal appearances in 2006 and 2009 stand as Houston's best performances in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup prior to 2018.
By hosting the Final, the Dynamo will have had the good fortune of playing its entire 2018 U.S. Open Cup schedule at home (five games in all). For its part, the Union's road trip to Texas will be the club's first game on the road over the course of the 2018 competition. It is also the first Open Cup Final the Union will have played away from home. The two previous Finals Philadelphia participated in were played at Talen Energy Stadium (formerly PPL Park) in Chester, Pa..
The Union's run in the current Open Cup started with a 5-0 Fourth Round win over the United Soccer League's (USL) Richmond Kickers (Open Cup champions from 1995, the last time a non-Major League Soccer club won the tournament title). It was followed by a 2-1 win over last year's runners-up New York Red Bulls, a 1-0 quarterfinal victory against Orlando City SC and, most recently, a 3-0 Semifinal drubbing of four-time Open Cup champion Chicago Fire.
On its way to the Final, Houston beat Dallas-based amateurs NTX Rayados 5-0 in the Fourth Round before besting Minnesota United 1-0, beating defending champion Sporting Kansas City 4-2 in the Quarterfinal and edging Los Angeles FC in a thrilling Semifinal that ended 3-3 before being decided via a penalty shootout. The Dynamo's top-scorer in the competition is Mauro Manotas with four goals, while Cory Burke leads the line for the Union with three goals in four games.
The 105th installment of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup started on May 6 with 97 participating teams from all levels of American soccer. As the amateur club to advance farthest in the tournament, FC Golden State Force won the $25,000 prize; amateurs Miami United FC and NTX Rayados also reached the Fourth Round, but FC Golden State won the tie-breaker amongst the three clubs by dint of defeating two opponents from a higher division. Louisville City (USL) went on a Cinderella run to the Quarterfinals, beating the New England Revolution along the way, to pick up the $25,000 prize as the best finisher from the American second division.