Brimstone rivals meet in Open Cup

Pizza Hut Park, Frisco, Texas; 7 p.m. CT

The familiar Brimstone Cup rivals face off for the right to play in the U.S. Open Cup Final in a significant achievement for both clubs. The two teams were the only two not to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs a year ago -and as such had to begin play in the Open Cup a round earlier - and yet both have reached the semifinals. This is the fifth time FC Dallas have reached the semifinal stage; they've played in just one final, winning on penalties in 1997. But the Chicago Fire, losing finalists a year ago, have played in more Open Cup Finals than any other MLS team, four in their first seven years, including the last two (winning in 2003). The winner of the match will also claim the Brimstone Cup as the winner of the season series between the clubs, the teams trading league matches (which would have left the cup with FCD) though the Open Cup match will now serve as the tie-breaker.

FC DALLAS
QUARTERFINAL: FC Dallas reached the semifinal stage of the U.S. Open Cup for the fifth time in club history when they defeated D.C. United on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes in their quarterfinal tie. ... United opened the scoring in the 47th minute when the Hoops found themselves pressed deep into their own box by United's combination play and Dema Kovalenko set up Christian Gomez to roll a simple finish under Scott Garlick from close range. ... But Kovalenko was sent off for a second bookable offense in the 72nd minute, then four minutes deep into stoppage time Carlos Ruiz took possession 25 yards out and turned to goal, boldly running at Bobby Boswell and cutting left past Facundo Erpen before stroking a cool finish past Troy Perkins to level the match. ... In the penalty shootout, FC Dallas made their first three efforts, while John Wilson pushed his wide right and Josh Gros had his saved by Garlick. Local boy Abe Thompson then strolled up and emphatically sent FCD into the semifinals. ... Here's Colin Clarke's team: Scott Garlick, Bobby Rhine, Clarence Goodson, David Wagenfuhr (Chris Gbandi 30), Greg Vanney, Simo Valakari (Abe Thompson 119), Arturo Alvarez (Roberto Mina 76), Carey Talley, Ramon Nunez, Eddie Johnson (Drew Moor 90), Carlos Ruiz ... Dallas had defeated United in the 1997 U.S. Open Cup Final on penalty kicks; in 1996, United advanced with to the final with a victory against Dallas. In all, Dallas has reached the semifinal stage four times (last in 2002), but the final only the one time.

2005 OPEN CUP RUN: FC Dallas booked passage to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup with a 3-1 victory against a nine-man Columbus Crew in extra time in their fourth-round tie at Crew Stadium. ... Carey Talley knocked home an Oscar Pareja service in the 29th minute, but the Crew equalized seven minutes later as Kyle Martino finished off a lovely passing sequence. The draw stayed intact into extra time, when Danny Szetela and Frankie Hejduk were sent off with direct red cards within four minutes for fouls on Arturo Alvarez. Abe Thompson's powerful drive gave FC Dallas the lead in the 113th minute, then Eddie Johnson converted a penalty three minutes later after he was taken down by Jamal Sutton to provide the final margin. ... In the third round, FC Dallas survived more giant-killing exploits from the USL Second Division Wilmington Hammerheads (third tier), getting two goals in extra time for a 3-1 victory at University of Texas-Dallas. Two years ago, the Hammerheads defeated Dallas 4-1 in a fourth-round match in Wilmington, and after Derek Popovich shot them into an 18th-minute lead a repeat was in view. But Abe Thompson equalized on the half-hour, then Carey Talley headed home a Roberto Mina cross (98), before Mina finished off the match with a tremendous long-range effort (112) to send the Hoops through.

IN THE OPEN CUP: The only honor in Dallas club history came in 1997, when they claimed the U.S. Open Cup title, defeating D.C. United on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw in Indianapolis. On their way to the title that year, the then-Burn defeated the New Orleans Riverboat Gamblers (A), Chicago Stingers (D3) and MetroStars to reach the final. They've reached the semifinals three other times - losing in 1996 to D.C. United, in 1998 to Chicago Fire and in 2002 to Los Angeles Galaxy. Twice they've been dumped out at the first hurdle by lower-level competition - in 2001 by the PDL Seattle Sounders Select and in 2003 by the Hammerheads.

CHICAGO FIRE
QUARTERFINAL: The Fire went on the road for the third time in the Open Cup this year and again came away with a victory, advancing to the semifinals again with a victory on penalties against the USL First Division (second tier) Rochester Raging Rhinos after a 1-1 draw. ... Chicago's Samuel Caballero gave his team a lead in the 34th minute, but Doug Miller equalized for Rochester in the 60th minute. The Fire's perfect session of penalty kicks was finished off by captain Chris Armas, who curled a shot inside the right post to send the "Men in Red" through to their sixth semifinal appearance in eight chances in Open Cup play. ... Here's Sarachan's team (4-4-2): Zach Thornton, Logan Pause (Jack Stewart 77), Jim Curtin, Samuel Caballero, Gonzalo Segares (Will John 110), John Thorrington (Chad Barrett 71), Chris Armas, Thiago, Ivan Guerrero, Lubos Reiter, Will Johnson.

2005 U.S. OPEN CUP RUN: The Fire returned to Lusitano Stadium in Ludlow, Mass. and hit for three goals - two in extra time - as they advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup with a 3-2 victory against the New England Revolution. ... Andy Herron pounded home a volley to give the Fire an 18th-minute lead, but the Revolution pulled level just four minutes later as Shalrie Joseph headed home a Jose Cancela cross. The Fire then claimed the tie with two goals in four minutes in extra time. C.J. Brown knocked home a deflected corner kick (96) before Herron completed his brace, picking off a weak back pass before finishing calmly. Andy Dorman scored in the final minute from long range to complete the final scoreline. ... The Fire survived a tricky tie in the third round of U.S. Open Cup, allowing an early goal to USL Second Division (third tier) Western Mass Pioneers, but coming back to claim a 3-1 victory at Lusitano Stadium in Ludlow, Mass. Will John scored two goals (16, 47+) to cancel out a Neil Krause strike after just five minutes, and also laid on a goal for Lubos Reiter (24).

IN THE OPEN CUP: The Chicago Fire are the most successful MLS team in the history of the USA's oldest competition. They've won the title three times in the seven years of their existence - in their inaugural year when they did the domestic double (2-1 aet v Columbus Crew), in 2000 when they defeated Miami Fusion 2-1, and in 2003 when they defeated the MetroStars 1-0. A year ago they lost for the first time in the Open Cup Final, falling to a golden goal from the Kansas City Wizards. Twice the Fire have been dumped out at the first hurdle by lower-level competition - both times A-League clubs: in 1999 (0-1 to Rochester Raging Rhinos) and 2002 (0-1 to Milwaukee Rampage). The '99 loss was the only time they've met in the Open Cup.


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