On Wednesday, Philadelphia Union will compete in their fourth US Open Cup semifinal and second against Chicago Fire. Last time the Union went to a USOC final, they defeated the Fire 1-0 behind Sebastien Le Toux’s 74th minute strike beyond Sean Johnson.
In that match, Cristian Maidana pulled the strings for Philly while a certain David Accam and Kennedy Igboananike were the biggest threats for the Fire. It was Johnson, however, who was the true star for the visitors, stoning Maidana and Brian Carroll before Le Toux finally beat him. McCarthy equalled the current NYC goalie’s exploits, keeping Accam off the board as the first half ended and then denying Igboananike’s bicycle kick in the final ten minutes.
The Fire were in the other side of the bracket from the Union in 2014, losing out 6-0 in a one-sided semifinal to eventual champion Seattle Sounders.
Meanwhile, the Union survived a brutally difficult shootout in Dallas thanks to the heroics of Zac MacMath. Philly’s goalie stuffed Blas Perez and Victor Ulloa from the spot in the shootout after making five saves in regular time. MacMath spent a good portion of the game sprinting off his line in an incredible sweeper-keeper display, but eventually his aggression cost him, as Perez put in Fabian Castillo and the winger rounded Philly’s goalie and evened the match.
The Union’s goal came early in the second half. A French connection between Vincent Nogueira and Sebastien Le Toux set up Amobi Okugo to slot home the go-ahead goal. Sheanon Williams, Nogueira, Maidana, and Maurice Edu made their shots in the shootout for the Union.
The Union’s first foray into the US Open Cup semifinals came during a tumultuous 2012 season in which the club dismissed Peter Nowak prior to the USOC quarterfinals. John Hackworth took over and defeated Sporting Kansas City 4-0 in a regular season clash before leading his team past Harrisburg City Islanders 5-2 in the quarterfinal.
Peter Vermes’ Kansas City team returned for the semifinal, however, and had his revenge. The sky blues knocked off Philly 2-0 behind second half goals from Jacob Peterson and Graham Zusi. CJ Sapong nearly scored as well for Sporting, but his shot bounced off the post. Antoine Hoppenot had the best chance of the game for the Union after Freddy Adu sent him in alone, but Jimmy Nielsen was on hand to keep the ball out of the net.
Now, in Jim Curtin’s third US Open Cup semifinal, the Union welcome the Fire back to Philadelphia as they seek to return to the final to face the winner of Houston and LAFC’s matchup in the other half of the bracket.
Catch all the action on Wednesday at 7PM EST on PhiladelphiaUnion.com.