There is a reason they call us the kings of the cup right? If being the most successful Major League Soccer club in the US Open Cup isn’t good enough of a reason, then Tuesday night’s 2-1 semi-final win over USL Pro’s Richmond Kickers demonstrated exactly why the Fire boast such an accomplished title. The Fire, fielding a full strength side once again in this tournament, used goals from Sebastian Grazzini and Dominic Oduro to book a place in its sixth US Open Cup Final where they will meet the Seattle Sounders next month. Continue reading
Tag Archives: US Open Cup
‘The header by Razov… Klopas scores!!’
That’s where it all began. In the 99th minute at Soldier Field in the 1998 US Open Cup final – Chicago’s inaugural season – Frank Klopas popped up in the six yard box to give the Fire a 2-1 lead over Columbus for its first ever US Open Cup triumph (see video at bottom). Now, thirteen years later, the Fire legend and current Interim Head Coach has the chance to lead the men in red to its sixth final of this tournament when they take on the Richmond Kickers at Toyota Park on Tuesday night. Continue reading
In Tuesday night’s US Open Cup quarter-final at Toyota Park, the Chicago Fire proved why they are the kings of the cup while the New York Red Bulls proved, well, quite frankly, why they aren’t. The men in red strolled to a comfortable 4-0 win to book their place in the semi-finals of the oldest club soccer competition in America.
As for the Red Bulls, they’ll be asking questions of manager Hans Backe for fielding a predominantly reserve team despite the team not scheduled to play again until a late Saturday kick-off against Chivas USA. If the Red Bulls’ team sheet wasn’t a big enough indication of the visitor’s lack of desire to advance in this tournament, then the fact that only three players were on the substitution bench summed it all up for New York.
Frank Klopas demonstrated the Fire’s intentions to win the US Open Cup by making only one change to the side that lost 2-1 to the Los Angeles Galaxy during the weekend. Josip Mikulic filled in for Cory Gibbs, who was reported to have been suffering from a stomach virus.
They say soccer isn’t played on paper but in this match, it might as well have been. The Fire started strongly and within seven minutes Dominic Oduro fired the home team into a 1-0 lead. Despite dominating the remainder of the first half, the Fire failed to double their advantage going into the break.
That would all change just minutes into the second half when Yamith Cuesta scored a wonderful header to put Chicago on the brink of a semi-final berth. And as if there was ever any doubt, Orr Barouch stepped off the bench to grab a brace and give the Fire a deserved, as well as expected, 4-0 win.
The match may be remembered for New York’s decision to field such a weakened team, but credit should be given to the Fire for making a statement of intent in this competition by playing a full strength team and demonstrating the importance of the US Open Cup. The New York Red Bulls’ players will have learned a thing or two on the pitch today, but ultimately it is their management who really need to learn something from this US Open Cup quarter-final.
The Chicago Fire will now play the winner of Sporting Kansas City vs. Richmond Kickers on August 30th.
Take a walk down memory lane for one moment. Think back to August 23rd, 2000, a time that feels like ages ago. Some of you may not have even been Chicago Fire supporters yet, while others may not have even been a fan of the wonderful sport of soccer. Whichever category you fall into, it’s irrelevant, as we can all do with a modest reminder of the importance of that day in our club’s history.
Playing in the unfamiliar Titan Stadium in Fullerton, CA, a stadium with a capacity of just 10,000, the Chicago Fire took on the Los Angeles Galaxy in the US Open Cup semi-finals in hopes of reaching its second final in three years. After a goalless 79 minutes, Cobi Jones – one of the faces of American soccer at that time – popped up to break the deadlock for the Galaxy and put them on the brink of a place in the final of US soccer’s oldest club tournament.
Thirty minutes prior to the goal, current US Men’s National Team captain Carlos Bocanegra, a rookie out of UCLA that year, received his marching orders for a minor incident which eventually involved nearly all 22 players on the field taking part in a large tussle which demonstrated the importance of that match. For a half hour the Fire battled with ten men to maintain any chance of reaching the final. That in itself was impressive, but there was more to come.
In the 85th minute, another Fire legend, Peter Nowak, controlled the ball deep in midfield and while running horizontal to the goal somehow managed to cut open LA’s defense with an absolutely delightful pass to find Ante Razov’s run (another Fire legend). The Croatian made little mistake from eight yards out, silencing the California crowd and sending the match to a Golden Goal and thus setting the stage for an incredible finale to an already unforgettable US Open Cup semi-final.
In the second half of extra-time, the Fire’s attempt to maintain a bit of possession in the midfield turned into the team stringing pass after pass together before the ball eventually arrived to DaMarcus Beasely inside the Galaxy box. His first-time shot was saved, but thankfully, Josh Wolff was first on the scene and his simple tap in sealed the match for the Fire. Cue euphoric scenes for Fire players and coaches. Even Dennis Hamlett looked too excited to even know what to do with himself.
So why is this match so important to the Chicago Fire? First of all, the Fire would go on to defeat the Miami Fusion 2-1 at Soldier Field in the final in what was a highly successful season for the club. Tonight, almost 11 years later, the Fire host the New York Red Bulls, presumably a weakened side, in a US Open Cup quarter-final at Toyota Park with memories of wins like that still vivid, yet slowly, gradually fading, in many of our minds. The Fire have won the US Open Cup more times than any other MLS club with four triumphs to date, but haven’t tasted success in the cup, or any cup for that matter, since 2006.
If there’s any better time to bring back some silverware to this club, it’s now. In the midst of a frustrating season in the MLS, the US Open Cup is the perfect platform to achieve success and remind everyone associated with the club, from its players and coaches to the supporters and the rest of the league, what the Chicago Fire are all about. For starters, we are kings of the cup. Now let’s prove it like we did in that memorable cup run in 2000… and before that in 1998… and then in 2003… and again in 2006.
Highlights of the Chicago Fire’s 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2000 US Open Cup Semi-Final: