Source: U.S. Soccer Communications
CHICAGO (Aug. 2018) - The Semifinals of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, U.S. Soccer's National Championship, produced a pair of goal-filled matches that were both defined by second-half fireworks as the Philadelphia Union dispatched the Chicago Fire 3-0 in the Eastern Semifinal and the Houston Dynamo outlasted Los Angeles FC in penalty kicks 7-6 after the teams finished 120 minutes tied at 3-3.
Philadelphia, now in a third Open Cup Final in the last five years, will meet the Dynamo, making their first appearance in an Open Cup Final, in the championship match on Sept. 26 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. Kickoff and broadcast details will be announced at a later date. The 2018 Final will be the first since 2001 (LA Galaxy vs. New England) in which neither Finalist has previously won an Open Cup title.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8
Philadelphia Union (MLS) 3, Chicago Fire (MLS) 0
A stellar second half from the home side resulted in a three-goal outburst and a ticket to the 2018 U.S. Open Cup championship match for the Philadelphia Union who defeated four-time Open Cup champions Chicago Fire 3-0 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa. to reach a third Open Cup Final in the space of five years.
An open game in which both teams had their chances began with the Union mostly trying to hit Chicago on the counter-attack, but some wayward finishing and lack of clear-cut looks left the home side largely on the back foot as Chicago possessed the ball with purpose. The Fire crafted a handful of quality opportunities through the cunning of Bastian Schweinsteiger and flashy skill of Aleksandar Katai, but Union goalkeeper Andre Blake was alert and up to every test the Fire put to him. He had to be particularly strong to push a stinging Schweinsteiger drive over the crossbar to help the Union reach the half knotted 0-0 with the Fire.
In the second half, the game continued to produce chances for both teams, but it was Fire 'keeper Richard Sanchez who had to pull out more of the heroics - one diving save in particular to deny Union captain Alejandro Bedoya in the 54th minute from point-blank range stood out as a potential game-changer. But five minutes later the breakthrough came for the hosts via Cory Burke who capped off a neatly worked give-and-go between Bedoya and Borek Dockal, that Bedoya then chipped over the Fire back line to a wide-open Burke. The hard-charging Burke doubled his side's lead in the 77th minute, smashing home a brisk counter attack that started all the way in the back with Blake. And with five minutes remaining in the match, substitute C.J. Sapong put the finishing touches on the victory with a tap-in from inside the six-yard box after Fafa Picault carried the ball to the end line, drew out Sanchez and slotted a pass back right into the path of Sapong to cement the 3-0 win.
Houston Dynamo (MLS) 3, Los Angeles FC (MLS) 3 (7-6 PKs)
It was a back-and-forth goal storm at BBVA Compass Stadium where both the Houston Dynamo and Los Angeles FC found scoring chances aplenty as well as more plot twists than a Hollywood thriller in an exhilarating penalty shootout win for the Texas side, 7-6, after both teams battled to a 3-3 draw after 120 minutes of end-to-end action.
LAFC wasted no time seizing the initial advantage. The speedy Diego Rossi opened the scoring six minutes into the contest, bagging the first of his three goals on the night with a fine finish of a Lee Nguyen through-ball. After absorbing the initial shock of going behind early, the Dynamo settled into their counter-attacking game plan and evened matters in the 12 th minute through an Andrew Wenger header at the back post on an Adam Lundqvist corner kick. From there, the Dynamo were off to the races, breaking often with pace into the LAFC defensive third and forcing goalkeeper Tyler Miller into numerous saves and interventions. But in the 25thminute, Mauro Manotas - the Dynamo's all-time top scorer in Open Cup play - put the Texans up 2-1, converting a slick through ball from Alberth Elis, who proved a strong and speedy thorn in LAFC's side throughout the match.
Riding into the second half with the lead, young Houston substitute Memo Rodriguez looked to have put the game out of reach for the California club when he beat Miller at the near post to extend the Dynamo's lead to 3-1 in the 75th minute. Staring down the end of their Open Cup dream, LA turned to Rossi, who still had enough gas in the tank to haul his side back into the match with an answer to Rodriguez's goal in the 78 thminute. Houston had squandered goal-scoring chances all evening and five minutes into the seven minutes of second-half stoppage time, they were made to pay when Rossi completed his hat trick with a deft header over Dynamo gloveman Joe Willis who had misjudged the depth of a cross, allowing Rossi and the visitors to fight on into overtime.
While the extra period did produce some scintillating chances for both teams, neither could find a winning strike and after 30 minutes matters had to be settled from the penalty spot. Willis redeemed his mistake from the end of regulation, saving two penalty kicks to play the hero and send Houston to its first Open Cup Final in club history.