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Philadelphia Union Control Match vs Fire, will Host US Open Cup Final against Sporting

Head coach Jim Curtin in his weekly press conference said about the opportunity to win the US Open Cup, “What I do want is our guys to have the feeling of winning a trophy. That is something I can’t teach, I can’t coach it. Once you have it, though, the group of guys, it’s permanent, it’s forever”.

His Philadelphia Union played tonight’s semifinal against Chicago Fire as if they felt the same way.

Though sloppy at times, and lacking the finishing quality, the Union thoroughly outplayed the Fire and deserved the 1-0 victory it earned tonight.

In truth, were it not for a spectacular goalkeeping display by the Fire’s Sean Johnson, the Union could have been up 2 or even 3 goals at the half.

Johnson was officially credited with 3 saves on the night, each of which could have been a goal.

In the 8th minute, Maidana fired from just inside the box and Johnson had to be on point to make a diving stop.  Maidana tried again in the 24th minute, but Johnson made an even better diving stop and CJ Sapong  was unable to convert a rebound from a tough angle.

2 minutes later, Brian Carroll tried one from the center of the box that Sean Johnson reached back to save just before it crossed the line.

The frustration in the crowd built and Union supporters had to be worried with the game nil nil at the half.

However, this team still has Sebastien Le Toux who is king of the US Open Cup – he struck for his 15th career Open Cup tally in the 74th minute on a tremendous individual effort.

Collecting a loose ball just outside the right side of the box, he made a quick cut to create space as he entered the penalty area, and slotted one past Sean Johnson to send the Sons of Ben behind the Fire goal into a chorus of “DOOP”.

The Fire barely threatened the Union goal in the game’s final 15 minutes and after 2 minutes of time added, their last ditch corner attempt was easily dealt with and the Union had the victory its head coach desperately wanted.

Union got great news from Kansas City when Sporting finished off a 3-1 victory over Real Salt Lake which means that Philadelphia will host its second straight US Open Cup final.

Tranquillo Barnetta got the start at his natural wing position for Union, but oddly, still looked out of place and seemed to drift centrally in attack leaving no options for the Union on the back post as several times during the match.

The Union nearly had a spectacular goal in the 37th minute when Le Toux slid for a ball in the box which CJ Sapong nearly got to but was caught off balance, and it slid wide of the Fire net.

The Fire’s best chance came in the 83′ when Kennedy Igboananike got on the end of a cross with a well-timed bicycle kick but John McCarthy was equal to the shot and preserved the shutout.

When the ref signaled full-time, John McCarthy had his second straight clean sheet – he recorded a clean sheet against Orlando in league play on the weekend.




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