U.S. Open Cup Semifinals: A Look Ahead

U.S. Open Cup Semifinals: A Look Ahead

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U.S. Open Cup Semifinals: A Look Ahead

The 2018 U.S. Open Cup finalists will be determined on Wednesday night at Talen Energy Stadium and BBVA Compass Stadium.

The first semifinal in the eastern half of the bracket features the third meeting of the season between the Philadelphia Union and Chicago Fire.

On the other side of the bracket, the Houston Dynamo host expansion side LAFC, with both sides vying for their first appearance in the Open Cup final.

If the Fire are victorious, they would host the Open Cup final on Oct. 3. If they lose, the winner of the Dynamo-LAFC match will host on Sept. 26.

Below is a deeper look at each Open Cup semifinal taking place on Wednesday.

Chicago Fire at Philadelphia Union (7 p.m. ET)

The last time the Fire and Union opposed each other, Jim Curtin’s side escaped Toyota Park with a win at the death by way of a David Accam stoppage-time game-winner.

The pair of Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls enter the semifinal on different paths, as the Fire are winless in their last five league games and the Union rested starters in a loss to Portland on Saturday.

Nemanja Nikolic and Aleksandar Katai are fully rested for the Fire, while Bastian Schweinsteiger played a half at altitude against Real Salt Lake.

In their big three, the Fire have the potential to torture the Union’s young back line.

The Union’s strength is their midfield spine led by Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya and Borek Dockal, but they’re going to need help finding the back of the net.

Accam could be an option for the Union with Ilsinho still injured, while Fafa Picault and the forward combination of C.J. Sapong and Cory Burke needs to up their production in the final third.

Veljko Paunovic’s side is looking for a return to the Open Cup final for the first time since 2011. The Fire have won four Open Cup titles, while the Union lost in back-to-back finals in 2014 and 2015.

LAFC at Houston Dynamo (8:30 p.m. ET)

Houston should be able to maximize their lineup, especially Alberth Elis, after being dwindled to eight men on Saturday against Sporting Kansas City.

The combination of Elis, Romell Quioto and Mauro Manotas can be dangerous against any defense, especially with the Texas heat coming into play.

LAFC’s defense hasn’t been perfect in recent weeks, as it let in at least two goals in each of its last three games.

The status of Adama Diomande is also in question for Bob Bradley’s side, as the forward exited Sunday’s game against the New York Red Bulls with a hamstring injury.

The Dynamo haven’t reached the Open Cup final as a franchise, but Chris Seitz, DaMarcus Beasley and assistant coach Davy Arnaud have participated in finals with other clubs.

Bradley carries plenty of Open Cup experience, as he won a pair of Open Cups with the Fire in 1998 and 2000.

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