Philadelphia Union are headed to the US Open Cup Final

Cory Burke celebrates his goal in the US Open Cup semifinals.

The Philadelphia Union snuffed out the Chicago Fire 3-0 last night in the US Open Cup Semifinal. Their win advances them to the US Open Cup Final where they will travel to Houston to take on the Houston Dynamo. The game will take place Wednesday, September 26th.

Cory Burke scores in the US Open Cup Semifinal, he celebrates with a slide. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

On a sweltering humid night in Chester PA, the Philadelphia Union took on the Chicago Fire for a chance to make it to their third US Open Cup Final in five years. The match featured two team below the playoff line in MLS’ eastern conference. Both seemed up for the chance to play to get to a cup final. The game was a tale of two halves.

1st Half:

As the game kicked off it was obvious that each side was a bit nervous. The nerves of a Semifinal were setting in for both sides. Both Philadelphia and Chicago were timid on the ball, as they didn’t want to make any early mistakes. The heat also played a factor. As the sun still shined on the pitch, the players looked drained when making a long run. The first 30 minutes were filled with a lot of back and forth play, and neither team looking particularly dangerous. That changed in the last 15 minutes.

The Fire started picking up steam in the last bit of the first half. They started to hold possession in the Union’s final third. Raheem Edwards was the most dangerous player for the Fire on their left-wing. His pace and craftiness gave David Accam fit, and it took some special efforts from Keegan Rosenberry to stop shots flying in. Once Edwards was off the ball, or made a pass, The Union were able to stop Chicago, but just barely. Chicago had four dangerous chances, but only one of them made its way to Andre Blake. At the end of the first half Chicago had the momentum, something had to click for Philadelphia to get going in the second half.

2nd Half:

In the second half, the Union looked like a completely different team. Philadelphia possessed the ball like they normally do at home. They looked much more purposeful with their passing and buildup play. This led to the team’s first goal of the night 14 minutes into the half.

1st goal:

The sequence leading to this goal is beautiful! A ball popped out to Bedoya outside of the box, and he instinctively moves forward to find Borek Dockal. The Czech returns the ball to Bedoya who continues his run towards the box. This resulted in the Chicago center backs stepping towards Bedoya, and left space for Burke to get in behind. Bedoya saw this, and chipped the ball over the on rushing center backs to Burke. The Jamaican took a touch to settle the ball, and found a way to place it past the on rushing keeper. The  Union were up 1-0.

After getting the go ahead goal, the Union were hungry for a second that could put the game away. They’d have to wait 18 minutes to find it. It came from the same feet that set up the first!

2nd goal:

The Union’s possession and buildup play hit the Chicago Fire on the first goal, the second was more of a quick attack. Andre Blake hit a goal kick up the field that found the head of CJ Sapong out on the right-wing. The header was played into space where Bedoya could pull Chicago out wide. He then found Cory Burke’s run into the vacated space. Burke with defenders closing in on him, took two touches to move closer and position himself for a strike. He took a powerful strike that beat the keeper and made things a lot more difficult for the Fire.

With Chicago now pushing to get a goal to get back into the match, there was a lot of space down the wings for the Union to hit on the counterattack. That’s exactly what they did to get a third goal!

3rd goal:

As the game came into its final minutes. The Union found space to operate along the wings. Fafa Picault was a handful on the left. He had the ball a lot, and on the third goal was the key on the third goal. He made a run with the ball down the left-wing, and drew Chicago defenders. Picault then found Herbers making a cutting run in the box. After making the pass, Picault made a run that Herbers saw. Picault got the return pass and ran towards the keeper, as the keeper came out, Picault saw Sapong in the middle. The ball was squared to Sapong who put the chance home. The third goal was the dagger in the heart of Chicago.

With 10 minutes left, and a 3-0 lead, the Union knew the job was done they continued pressing and moving the ball forward. They didn’t let Chicago have a chance to score. The final whistle came and the Union knew they were on to the US Open Cup Final.

Box Score:

Scoring Summary

PHI – Cory Burke (Alejandro Bedoya, Borek Dočkal) 59’
PHI – Cory Burke (Alejandro Bedoya, CJ Sapong) 77’
PHI – CJ Sapong (Fafa Picault, Fabian Herbers) 86’

Disciplinary Summary

CHI – Aleksandar Katai (caution) 62’


Philadelphia Union:

Andre Blake; Ray Gaddis, Auston Trusty, Jack Elliot, Keegan Rosenberry; Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin, Fafa Picault, Borek Dockal (Derrick Jones 90’), David Accam (CJ Sapong 56’); Cory Burke (Fabian Herbers 81’)

Substitutes not used: John McCarthy; Richie Marquez, Fabinho, Warren Creavalle

Chicago Fire:

Richard Sanchez; Jorge Corrales (Kevin Ellis 74’), Brandon Vincent, Johan Kappelhof, Nicolas Hasler (Drew Conner 85’); Brandt Bronico (Alan Gordon 72’), Dax McCarty, Aleksandar Katai, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Raheem Edwards; Nemanja Nikolic

Substitutes not used: Stefan Cleveland; Jonathan Campbell, Grant Lillard, Daniel Johnson


On to the Final:

The Union knew they were on to the final, but they did not know their opponent. LAFC and Houston Dynamo were playing as the Union won. That game went to extra-time after a 90 minute 3-3 draw. After a scoreless 30 minutes of extra-time the game went to penalties. After eight rounds Houston prevailed 6-5 in the shootout!

The Union will travel to Houston Dynamo for the US Open Cup Final. The match will be played Wednesday, September 26th! Look for an in-depth preview on that match in September!

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Peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports