The Union are headed to the U.S. Open Cup final for the first time in three years thanks to a dominant 3-0 win over the Chicago Fire Wednesday night at Talen Energy Stadium. Cory Burke scored the first two goals, cementing his status as the team’s top striker, and C.J. Sapong put the icing on the cake late.
They’ll visit either the Houston Dynamo or Los Angeles FC in the final, which will be played Sept. 26. Houston hosted L.A. in Wednesday’s other semifinal, which was still going on when the Union game ended.
The first half was scoreless and quiet, save for two loud roars from fans when referee Ramy Touchan let fouls go that should have been called in the Union’s favor. Haris Medunjanin hit the crossbar, Andre Blake made one save, and that was about it.
The second half was much livelier. Alejandro Bedoya came inches away from scoring in the 53rd minute, but Fire goalkeeper Richard Sanchez denied him with a spectacular diving save from just off the goal line.
Jim Curtin started making moves in the 56th minute, bringing Sapong in for David Accam. That created the rare circumstance of Cory Burke and Sapong playing on the field together, which some observers have wanted to see for a while.
The breakthrough came in the 59th. Bedoya and Borek Dockal played a neat give-and-go in tight space, then Bedoya chipped the ball over the Fire back line to Burke, who trapped the ball and struck a good low shot.
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The Union kept coming. Burke missed narrowly in the 69th; Fafa Picault missed in the 70th and was stopped from close range by Sanchez in the 73rd.
Burke did not miss in the 77th, and he had Bedoya to thank for the assist again. Sprung by a Sapong header near midfield, Bedoya whipped a pass behind Fire left back Kevin Ellis into Burke’s path. He smashed home a shot from just inside the 18-yard box.
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Sapong finished the job in the 86th, getting open from close range and finishing a setup pass from Picault.