The Philadelphia Union is headed back to the U.S. Open Cup final for the third time in the last five years thanks to a 3-0 win over the Chicago Fire.
Philadelphia did not look sharp in the first half but ran over the Fire in the
last half hour with its counterattack, getting two goals from Jamaican Corey Burke and one from sub C.J. Sapong.
The Union lost on the previous two occasions in the final at
Talen Energy Stadium -- in overtime to the Seattle Sounders in 2014 and in a shootout to Sporting Kansas City in 2015 -- but will now have to take to the road in quest for its first trophy. It will
play the Houston Dynamo Sept. 26 in the final at BBVA Compass Stadium.
In 2016 and 2017, Philadelphia was eliminated from the Open Cup on penalty kicks, so it has not lost in the
competition in regulation in the last five years.
Both head coach Jim Curtin and captain Alejandro Bedoya, who was involved in setting up Burke's first goal with a nifty
one-two with Borek Dockal and flick over the Chicago backline, said what is different about the Union this year is its depth.
Jack Elliot, who had started only once in the
last three months, played alongside Auston Trusty in place of injured Mark McKenzie and helped shut down the Fire attack.
"Our young backline did a really good job," said
Burke has started only four MLS games but has five goals to go along with three goals in the Open Cup this season to lead the Union with eight goals in all competitions.
Still, it is the two losses in Open Cup finals that haunt the Union. Asked if it was in danger of becoming the Buffalo Bills of the Open Cup, in reference to the losers of four Super Bowls, Curtin
responded, “Don’t say that one."
Curtin, who won two Open Cup titles as a player with the Fire and coached the Union in the 2014 and 2015 finals, said the first trophy is
always the hardest to win.
“We’ve had about as heartbreaking of losses as we could’ve possibly have in those two," he said. "I still believe it makes you stronger.
Certain types of people that would say, I don’t want to get to a final game because you could have that Buffalo Bills thing come up. But you can’t operate like that in life. You have to go
for it. You have to have a team that's brave and tries to play the right way."
Aug. 8 in Chester, Pa. Philadelphia
Union 3 Chicago Fire 0. Goals: Burke 59, 77, Sapong 86. Philadelphia -- Blake; Gaddis, Trusty, Elliot, Rosenberry; Bedoya, Medunjanin, Picault, Dockal (Jones 90), Accam (Sapong 56);
Burke (Herbers 81). Chicago -- Sanchez; Corrales (Ellis 74), Vincent, Kappelhof, Hasler (Conner 85); Bronico (Gordon 72), McCarty, Katai, Schweinsteiger, Edwards; Nikolic. Att.: 7,934.