Union

Union surging into U.S. Open Cup final, 'deserve to be' the champs

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Union surging into U.S. Open Cup final, 'deserve to be' the champs

CHESTER, Pa. — With back-to-back wins over two of the league’s hottest teams, the Union are heading into their third U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday with the wind at their back.

“This group deserves to be champion,” boasted Fabinho, who captained the Union’s largely reserve squad on Sunday at Talen Energy Stadium. “We know how hard we work every day, everybody. We deserve to be champion on Wednesday and we are ready for this game.”

The confidence was palpable following a 2-0 win over Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City on Sunday. Saving the legs of almost all consistent starters, and with goalkeeper Andre Blake falling ill just before kickoff, the Union went with a largely untested group and came out with the victory, thanks to a pair of second-half goals from Jay Simpson.

Other than Simpson and Fabinho, the list of Union starters included Oliver Mbaizo, making his MLS debut, Derrick Jones, Warren Creavalle and John McCarthy.

“We’re on a good run of form at the moment,” said Simpson, who made his first start of the season on Sunday and also contributed to the Union’s midweek win in Seattle against the Sounders. “I’m sure a lot of people didn’t even fancy us to get a result today with our starters missing out on the game because of the Open Cup. We beat some big sides.”

With one loss in their last eight matches, the Union are surging into the title game. Wednesday's match against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium will mark the third time the Union have appeared in the Open Cup championship since 2014. They’ve lost the other two - a fact fresh in the mind of Fabinho, who noted that the club's success of late has changed the dynamic.

“I feel different this year,” he said. “I don’t know why, I can’t say how or why, but I feel different. I feel like we’ll be the champions, you know what I mean. I know the game will be very tough, I know Houston has a good team.”

More importantly, the past struggles have given the confident Union valuable perspective.

“We have guys who work here every day, some guys come here at 5 AM to work for us, help us,” Fabinho said. “The fans are here every weekend, the staff, we have a lot of people behind us. When we go for this game, we have to play like it’s the last game of our lives. It’s important for us, but it’s important for many people behind us.”

Union fall to top seed NYCFC in regular-season finale

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Union fall to top seed NYCFC in regular-season finale

BOX SCORE 

CHESTER, Pa. — Ronald Matarrita and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored and New York City FC beat the Philadelphia Union 2-1 on Sunday in the regular-season finale.

New York City (18-6-10), the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, earned a first-round bye and will play No. 4 seed Toronto or fifth-seeded D.C. United in the conference semifinals.

Philadelphia (16-11-7) lost three of its last four regular-season games, falling from first to third in the Eastern standings. The Union will host the sixth-seeded New York Red Bulls in the knockout round.

Matarrita opened the scoring in the sixth minute. Valentin Castellanos, at the top of the area, first-timed a pass from Ben Sweat to Matarrita for the finish from near the spot. It was the first goal of the season for the 25-year-old defender.

Ismael Tajouri-Shradi chipped an entry from outside the area that deflected off the Union's Jamiro Monteiro into the goal to make it 2-0 in the 22nd and Philadelphia's Marco Fabian converted from the spot in the 87th minute. 

Union fall into second-place tie after loss to Crew

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Union fall into second-place tie after loss to Crew

BOX SCORE

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Pedro Santos had a goal and an assist in the second half and the Columbus Crew beat the Union 2-0 on Sunday night to hand the Eastern Conference's top seed to New York City FC.

Youness Mokhtar's first career goal, set up by Luis Diaz and Santos, put Columbus up in the 69th minute. Four minutes later, Santos' 11th goal doomed the Union, who fell six points behind NYCFC and into a tie for second with Atlanta United, which holds the tiebreaker with one game to play.

Eloy Room made three saves for his first shutout.

The game was delayed by almost an hour as lightning arrived with the start of halftime.

On the attack, the Union (16-10-7) failed to get a strong shot and off the block the Crew (10-15-8) quickly countered. Speedy Luis Diaz dribbled the ball across midfield on the right before sending it middle to Santos, who put it to Mokhtar in the box left. Mokhtar counted back into the middle and beat three defenders with a low drive past Andre Blake.

Off a corner four minutes later, a Union defender's header put the ball straight up in the air and Blake punched it out of the box. Santos pounced on the loose ball sending a four-bouncer through a crowd of players past the diving Blake.