nikolic schweinsteiger celebration

Preview: Fire, Union battle Wednesday for berth in U.S. Open Cup final

Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Fire
U.S. Open Cup
— Semifinals
Talen Energy Stadium — Chester
August 8
— 6 pm CT

A berth in the 2018 U.S. Open Cup final is on the line when Eastern Conference rivals Philadelphia Union and Chicago Fire clash Wednesday.

This is the second all-time USOC meeting, with the Union pulling out a 1-0 victory in the 2015 semifinals on a goal by Sebastien Le Toux.

This is the Fire’s record 13th appearance in the Open Cup semifinals. If they advance to their seventh final, the Fire would host, as they did when Union coach Jim Curtin helped them lift the trophy as a standout defender for the last time in 2006.

The Union are in the semifinals for the fourth time in seven years and are looking to reach the final for a third time after losing after regulation in 2014 (extra time to Seattle Sounders FC) and 2015 (penalty-kick shootout to Sporting Kansas City), both on home turf.

Philadelphia Union

The Union have feasted on home cooking on their run to the semifinals, beating the Richmond Kickers, New York Red Bulls and Orlando City SC at Talen Energy Stadium. Alejandro Bedoya scored the lone goal in the quarterfinal win over Orlando in the 4th minute on July 18.

With an eye on fielding their strongest possible side for the semifinals, Curtin utilized a heavily-rotated side in a 3-0 loss to the Portland Timbers Saturday night at Providence Park.

“It’s a big opportunity for us at home,” Curtin said. “Again, we didn’t want to have any regrets going into that game. … I think we’re set up now to go against Chicago at home where we do have a lot more of the ball. We’re set and ready to go. It will be a fight though. All of these semifinal-type games are usually one-play games and hopefully at home we can come out on top.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: M - Ilsinho (right quad strain)

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3–1, right to left)
GK: Andre Blake — Keegan Rosenberry, Mark McKenzie, Auston Trusty, Raymon Gaddis — Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin — David Accam, Borek Dockal, Fafa Picault — C.J. Sapong

Chicago Fire

After stunning Atlanta United in the Round of 16 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Fire cruised to a 4-0 win over Louisville City FC in the quarterfinals at Toyota Park on July 18.

Nemanja Nikolic and Aleksandar Katai struck for first-half goals and Diego Campos and Elliot Collier tacked on late after Louisville were reduced to 10 men.

Like the Union, the Fire rested several regulars in a 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday. Bastian Schweinsteiger leveled three minutes into the second half, but Damir Kreilach struck for his second goal of the game with a quarter-hour remaining to lead RSL.

Compounding things for the Fire, who dropped their sixth straight league game, was that Campos, the versatile rookie, left the match with a left knee injury in the 30th minute.

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: M - Djordje Mihailovic (right ACL surgery), F - Michael de Leeuw (left ACL surgery), D - Matt Polster (MCL surgery), GK - Patrick McLain (hamstring injury), D - Grant Lillard (right quad injury), M - Dax McCarty (hamstring injury); QUESTIONABLE: D - Diego Campos (left knee injury)

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK: Richard Sanchez — Kevin Ellis, Johan Kappelhof, Brandon Vincent, Jorge Corrales — Brandt Bronico, Bastian Schweinsteiger — Aleksandar Katai, Nicolas Hasler, Raheem Edwards — Nemanja Nikolic

All-Time in U.S. Open Cup