With both semifinal matches wrapped up, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup has finally solidified two finalists. In the United States’ oldest soccer competition, many teams, both amateur and professional fought for the opportunity to reach and host a final, but ultimately, it came down to two MLS clubs who seem to have a knack for cup competitions. While all eyes will be on September 30 and the final at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania, it’s worth taking a look at what got these two successful sides to the final. Here’s a recap of the two semifinal matchups, highlighting what to look forward to in the final.
Philadelphia Union 1, Chicago Fire 0
The Philadelphia Union, current holders of the worst record in the MLS Eastern Conference have reached the Open Cup semifinals in three of the last four years, and will now host the final for the second consecutive year after beating the Chicago Fire at their home stadium, PPL Park.
The Union win came on the back of a 73rd minute strike from Sebastian Le Toux, his 15th career goal in the Open Cup, the most of any player in the modern era. After a game where Le Toux looked dangerous throughout, he solidified his place in U.S. Open Cup history by slotting a low, left-footed strike just inside the post, past the outstretched arms of Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
Johnson was the player of the day for Chicago, whose defense massively struggled to contain the onslaught of Union attackers. Carlos Maidana was devastating in front of goal, narrowly missing a chance when his shot ricocheted off the post in the early moments of the first half. The Fire never particularly threatened the Union, and were mostly caught on their heels, especially after the debut of new DP signing Gilberto was cut short due to an injury in the 21st minute.
While the Union have made three semifinals and two finals in the Open Cup in the past four years, they have never won a trophy. The Sons of Ben would certainly be ecstatic to see them lift their first trophy in club history on September 30.
Sporting Kansas City 3, Real Salt Lake 1
While it is not considered one of the marquee rivalries in MLS, the bad blood between SKC and RSL was evident throughout every minute of their Open Cup semifinal clash. In front of their home fans at Sporting Park, KC clearly wanted to secure a place in the final, while RSL looked to play spoiler against their longtime rival.
RSL took the early lead as Olmes Garcia slipped behind the SKC defense to finish a one on one opportunity with the Kansas City keeper. The goal broke 264 minute scoreless streak for RSL at Sporting Park, dating back to the 2013 MLS Cup Final, which Salt Lake lost on penalties.
The visitor’s lead did not last long, as SKC was able to equalize off a Benny Feilharber free kick that found the head of Haitian international Soni Mustivar, who put it in the back of the net.
From there, RSL unraveled, as goalscorer Olmes Garcia earned a red card early in the second half for an ill timed tackle on Feilharber. It took a heroic performance from goalkeeper Nick Rimando just to keep RSL in the game.
Benny Feilharber solidified himself as the top player on SKC in this match, scoring the game winner in the 80th minute to add to his assist. Krizstian Nemeth added the insurance goal for Kansas City.
Against Philly, Sporting will seek their third U.S. Open Cup in club history, as they last won in 2012 at home, the first trophy since their team was rebranded as SKC.