In their first two matches in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the Union allowed teams from inferior leagues to score first and needed extra time to advance.
They learned their lesson Tuesday night, scoring early in their quarterfinal matchup against the New England Revolution and holding on for a 2-0 victory at PPL Park. With the win, the Union advanced to the semifinals of the tournament for the second time in club history.
The Union took the lead in the ninth minute. Forward Conor Casey got behind the defense and received a long free kick from defender Sheanon Williams. Casey chipped the ball just inside the right goalpost.
"It's always good to play with a lead," said the Union's interim manager, Jim Curtin. "At home, especially, we haven't done that much this year. We're trying to make it a tough place to play again."
The Union persisted in applying pressure throughout the first half. They outshot the Revolution, 5-2, in the half but failed to cushion their lead.
It didn't take long for them to do so in the second half, though. Revolution goalie Brad Knighton put two hands on Sebastien Le Toux's corner kick in the 47th minute but couldn't gain possession, and the ball trickled behind him into the net. It was Le Toux's 14th career goal in the Open Cup, setting a record for the tournament's modern era, which began in 1995.
"You never really think about it," Le Toux said. "I even thought before [the second-half goal that] I scored more than the number - was it 13? I think I scored more."
The Revolution had few opportunities. A thunderstorm delayed the match for 58 minutes. When the delay was over, the Union staved off any New England advances to hold on for the victory.
"Like we said in the locker room before the game - 'We're two wins from being in the first final this club has ever been in,'" Curtin said. "So that's something special."
The Union will continue their quest for the Open Cup against the winner of the match between the Carolina RailHawks and FC Dallas on Wednesday. The semifinal will be on Aug. 12.
The Union continue their MLS schedule Saturday against the Colorado Rapids at PPL Park.