Two goals from Cory Burke pushed the Union past the Chicago Fire and into the U.S. Open Cup final for the third time in club history.
Burke, who got the start over Sapong on Saturday night, found the net in the 59th minute. Alejandro Bedoya found the forward with an exquisite chipped pass, and Burke took it down and slammed it past an outrushing Richard Sanchez.
The Jamaican forward doubled his tally in the 77th. Picking up a great pass from Bedoya yet again, Burke made a strong run down the center of the field and blasted his shot into the back of the net.
CJ Sapong sealed the result with four minutes to spare, redirecting a pass from Fafa Picault past Sanchez from close range. Sapong, who came off the bench, also received a secondary assist on Burke’s second goal.
While the first half was uneventful there were several moments in the first 45 that were worth noting.
In the 11th, Edwards, who was relentless in the first, made a great run at goal, splitting the defense; however, he was denied his chance at goal, keeping it scoreless. In the 37th, Schweinsteiger delivered a scary moment for the Union as his bicycle kick barely looped over the crossbar.
The first great Union chance came in the 39th minute off their first corner of the game. Dockal took the short pass off the corner to deliver a great cross into the box to Elliott, who sent it just over the bar. Soon after that, in the 45th, Schweinsteiger retaliated with a laser on goal, but it was met with a great save from Andre Blake.
The first half was uneventful to say the least, but the Union held strong throughout. They looked sloppy at points, but they maintained pressure against the Fire. Their overall structure was intact, and they stopped the Fire from executing the chances they were given. However, it did seem that the Union were playing in cement and nervous to try to take the game for themselves. They lacked focus at times, and it seemed as if they were doing everything they could to not lose and make it to penalties rather than going for the win early on.
This all changed in the second half as the Union layed on the pressure, and picked up the pace. Starting off, the Union’s best chance of the night by this point came in the 54th as the ball fell right to Bedoya in the box, but Sanchez, who honestly played well and lacked a good defense in front of him throughout the night, denied the Union captain from tallying the first goal of the game.
That pressure never let up as the game continued, and in the 59th, the Union finally made it onto the scoreboard.
The floodgates were opened, and it was the Union’s game for the taking. The pressure was too much for the Fire, who seemed to disappear following the first goal by Burke, and that pressure came to a peak when Burke rocketed in his second of the evening to make it 2-0.
The great night was capped off with a goal from substitute CJ Sapong, who made it 3-0.
The initial lack of chances made it seem as though the game was destined for penalties, but the Union came out with a purpose in the second half to put out the Fire (I’m so sorry). The Union are heading to Houston for their third US Open Cup final, where they’ll take on a Dynamo side coming off a dramatic victory over LAFC in penalties.
If the Union’s play in the final is anything like it was in the second half tonight, they might just lift the first trophy in the club’s history.
In the meantime, the Union travel to New England to face the Revolution this Saturday, the 11th, at 7:30 PM.