By Annie Ross
The Union exploded in the second half for three goals against the Chicago Fire and earned a spot in the 2018 U.S. Open Cup championship match.
The 3-0 victory set up a final between the Union and the Houston Dynamo in Houston on Sept. 26.
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 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.