CHESTER, Pa. -- Mr. Open Cup came through again for the Philadelphia Union.
Sebastien Le Toux, the all-time leading scorer in the US Open Cup's modern-era, netted the only goal of Wednesday’s USOC semifinal against the Chicago Fire to send Philly back to the tournament final for the second straight year.
The breakthrough game in the 74th minute when Le Toux dribbled to the middle of the field and fired a low-driven, left-footed blast just inside the post and past the outstretched arms of Sean Johnson, lifting the Union to the 1-0 victory at PPL Park.
Le Toux now has 15 goals in the Open Cup, including four for the Union, who advance to play the winner of Wednesday’s Real Salt Lake-Sporting Kansas City semifinal game in the Open Cup final on Sept. 30.
The Union have been to at least the semifinals in three of the last four US Open Cups but have yet to hoist the trophy, losing in extra time to the Seattle Sounders in last year’s title game.
The Fire missed out on the chance to win their fifth US Open Cup in franchise history, mustering only two shots on target for the game.
Chicago’s Kennedy Igboananike -- who entered the game in the 21st minute when Gilberto’s Fire debut was cut short due to a thigh contusion -- nearly scored an incredible 83rd-minute equalizer but his bicycle kick was saved by Union goalkeeper John McCarthy.
The Union controlled possession in the first half and registered almost all of the scoring chances, too. But Johnson came up big, making great stops on Cristian Maidana in the eighth minute and Brian Carroll -- off a Maidana cross -- in the 26th.
Maidana nearly scored again in the 24th minute but his shot hit the post and C.J. Sapong’s rebound attempt hit the side netting. Thirteen minutes later, Sapong got his feet tangled after Le Toux made a sliding cross to him right in front of the net, leaving another big chance begging.
The Fire’s only first-half shot on target came in the 45th minute when David Accam had a tough-angle blast saved by McCarthy, who’s starred in all four of Philly’s Open Cup victories this year.
The Union and Fire meet again at the same venue in a Sunday night league match, with both clubs looking to climb up from the bottom of the Eastern Conference table.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.