Two U.S. Open Cup heavyweights will do battle tonight with a spot in the final on the line.
The Philadelphia Union and Chicago Fire have been constants in the latter stages of this competition over the past several years. The Fire have made 13 Open Cup semifinal appearances in their 20-year history, more than any other team, while the Union are already making their fourth appearance in the penultimate round of the tournament.
The two teams have met in the Open Cup once before, when the Union triumphed in the 2015 semifinal. Since 2012, the two teams have seven semifinal appearances between them and nothing to show for it.
The two teams’ successes in the Open Cup have often come despite struggles in MLS, and that’s no different this season. Both the Union and the Fire sit below the red line, and Chicago’s points per game figure is the fourth-worst in the league.
The Union defeated the Richmond Kickers, New York Red Bulls, and Orlando City SC to reach this stage, while the Fire prevailed over Columbus Crew SC (in penalties), Atlanta United FC, and Louisville City FC.
Should they win, the Union would not host their third U.S. Open Cup final, instead traveling to either Houston or Los Angeles FC.
Accam’s coming out?
Union winger David Accam was instrumental to Chicago’s Open Cup runs during his time there, scoring five goals in Cup play. He’s scored only twice since the Union acquired him for more than a million dollars in allocation in January. Our Matt Ralph sees tonight’s game as a way for him to get back on track:
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.
Philadelphia Union: Andre Blake; Keegan Rosenberry, Mark McKenzie, Auston Trusty, Ray Gaddis; Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin; Fafa Picault, Borek Dočkal, David Accam; Cory Burke
Chicago Fire: Richard Sanchez; Kevin Ellis, Johan Kappelhof, Brandon Vincent, Jorge Corrales; Brandt Bronico, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Aleksandar Katai, Nicolas Hasler, Raheem Edwards; Nemanja Nikolic
How to watch
Where: Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, PA
When: August 8, 7:00 PM ET
Streaming: Union website