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U.S. Open Cup semifinal a huge opportunity for David Accam

Accam scored five goals in Chicago Fire’s run to the semifinal of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2016 and has a goal in this year’s competition

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Chicago Fire Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

David Accam’s first season with the Philadelphia Union has mostly been a bust with his two goals in all competitions failing to justify the $1.2 million in allocation money used to acquire him from Chicago.

The optimism surrounding his arrival at Philadelphia International Airport after the club made a big splash at the MLS SuperDraft announcing his acquisition has given way to more cynicism and angst from a fanbase still questioning the club’s lack of movement on the transfer front.

While Borek Dockal has quieted the whispers that he might have been a $1.7 million borrowed paperweight after his slow start to the season, in order for Accam to justify his fee, he’s going to have to do much more of the thing he was best known for in Chicago: scoring goals.

A goal or two tonight against his former club would go a long way to getting him back on the right track, producing the way fans expect of the 35th-highest paid player in the league.

Accam’s two goals this season have come from the penalty spot in an Open Cup blowout over Richmond Kickers and deep in stoppage time to beat the Fire in Bridgeview, Illinois.

Finding the back of the net tonight — as he did five times in the competition in 2016 — would be yet another blow to the Fire’s season, which is beginning to slip into oblivion.

Since Accam snatched three points at the death on July 11, the Fire’s only win in five games came in the Open Cup against Louisville City. Their current losing streak to MLS opponents is six, a span over which they have been outscored 17-8. The Union are four points ahead of the Fire in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Open Cup this season feels like a gift to the Union, who get to host a fourth-straight Open Cup match at home and have hosted eight of their last 10 games in the competition.

They have made the most of their home field advantage. In fact, the last and only time the blue and gold lost a home game not on penalties in the competition was in the 2012 semifinal while their only previous meeting with the Fire in the U.S. Open Cup ended in a 1-0 win in the 2015 semifinal.

A trip to either Houston or Los Angeles and a third appearance in the Open Cup final awaits the Union should they advance tonight. Even if Accam doesn’t score a goal, he could factor into penalties. The Union have fallen in penalties each of the last three years in Open Cup play.