"Natural goalscorer" Cory Burke keys Philadelphia's latest Open Cup success

CHESTER, Pa. — Before Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal game, Philadelphia Union coach Jim Curtin asked Cory Burke if he had a couple of goals in him.

When Burke said that maybe he could do one better and deliver the team a hat trick, Curtin told him that two would be just fine.

And that’s exactly what he got, as Burke’s brace lifted the Union to a 3-0 win over the Chicago Fire at Talen Energy Stadium Wednesday night.

“It’s my job to score goals,” Burke said succinctly. “So whenever I get the chance to start or play, I always want to score goals because that’s what’s going to keep me on the pitch.”

Burke has certainly done his job, scoring five goals in four career league starts in his debut MLS season. The Jamaican international also now has three goals in four U.S. Open Cup games.

“He’s a goalscorer,” goalkeeper Andre Blake said. “Even if he doesn’t do anything else, he scores goals. That’s what he did tonight, so he did a great job.”

Against the Fire, Burke opened the scoring in the 59th minute with a calm finish past Fire goalkeeper Richard Sanchez and completed his brace 18 minutes later to send the Union to their third Open Cup final in five years.

“I’m very happy for him,” said Blake, his fellow countryman from Jamaica. “He just has to keep his head, which is important, and stay grounded. He’s got a lot to learn. But he’s a natural goalscorer and has got an instinct for goals. He’s always going to get in spots. That’s a good thing, and he just has to keep it going.”

Whether or not Burke keeps it going will very likely play a big role in whether the Union can lift their first trophy in the Open Cup final in Houston or make the playoffs for the third time in franchise history. The Union didn’t make any attacking upgrades in the Secondary Transfer Window, instead putting a lot of faith in strikers Burke and CJ Sapong, who Burke recently supplanted as the team’s starter, but who came off the bench to score the game’s third goal Wednesday.

“The fact that we have so many striker options is special,” said winger Fafa Picault, who set up Sapong’s goal. “Him and CJ are two different styles of striker. Both are very good and give us two different kinds of options when playing. 

“CJ came on and scored and Cory finished his two chances. So this is perfect for us. That’s what we need and that’s what we want.”