USOC Preview: Fire meet familiar foes Richmond in semis
The Chicago Fire shift their focus to a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Semifinal against the Richmond Kickers at Toyota Park on Tuesday at 8:30 pm ET (streaming LIVE on Chicago-Fire.com).
The Fire have never lost a home US Open Cup match after the tournament’s round of 16, holding a perfect 11-0-0 record and outscoring opponents 30-10, in quarterfinals, semifinals and finals played in Chicagoland. Additionally, they're 5-2-0 all-time in Open Cup semifinals, with the club’s only blemishes coming in matching 1-0 losses to the LA Galaxy in 2001 and FC Dallas in 2005.
Tuesday’s clash marks the second meeting between the Fire and the third-division USL Pro team. In the previous meeting, the Fire rode a 56th-minute goal from Dipsy Selolwane to defeat the Kickers 1-0 at University of Richmond Stadium and advance to the 2004 US Open Cup Semifinals.
Since 1998, the Fire have racked up an impressive 27-8-3 record in Open Cup play, which has helped the squad reach the semifinal round on eight out of 14 occasions and the tournament’s final five times. Their 2006 title marked the ninth time a team from Chicago won the Open Cup and made the Fire one of five teams to capture the crown at least four times in the tournament’s nearly century-long history.
The Fire have raised the prestigious Dewar Cup on four previous occasions and, if they advance, will have the opportunity to tie Bethlehem Steel and Maccabi Los Angeles with five US Open Cup titles apiece. The winner of Tuesday's tilt will go on to face the winner of the other semifinal between the Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas.
The Kickers fell to Orlando City 3-0 in the USL Pro semifinals Saturday evening at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
Chicago, meanwhile, won their second straight match on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Colorado, stretching their unbeaten streak to four in league play and putting themselves back into playoff contention.
Dominic Oduro tallied his team-leading ninth goal of the season with his strike in the 17th minute of Saturday’s win. Already having hit a career best for goals in an MLS season, the Ghanaian sits one away from becoming the first Fire player since Damani Ralph in 2004 to score double-digit goals during the regular season.
Pável Pardo tallied two assists in 45 minutes against the Rapids, while Sebastián Grazzini grabbed an assist on Gibbs’ 35th-minute header. The Fire’s two foreign summer signings have combined for three goals and five assists since the beginning of August.
Fire defender Cory Gibbs tallied just his third career MLS goal as he headed home Grazzini’s cross against the team he spent 2008-09 with. Gibbs has scored two of his three MLS goals with the Fire in 2011.
Making four saves in the match, Sean Johnson recorded his sixth shutout of the season and ninth of his MLS career.
With three goals, striker Orr Barouch leads the way in scoring for the Fire in US Open Cup play (qualifying included) this year. The on-loan striker scored in the club’s shootout victory (2-2 draw; 5-4 penalties) at San Jose Earthquakes on May 24 to qualify for the tournament before tallying a second half brace vs. the New York Red Bulls in a 4-0 quarterfinal victory on July 12 at Toyota Park.
Fire defender Yamith Cuesta has two goals in Open Cup play and is joined by Jalil Anibaba, Diego Chaves and Dominic Oduro as the team’s goal scorers in the 2011 competition.