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.