Fire fall at final hurdle in Open Cup

Igor Simutenkov's golden goal gave the Kansas City Wizards a 1-0 victory against the Chicago Fire in the final of the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and with the triumph on Wednesday night at Arrowhead Stadium, they honored the club's investor-operator for which the tournament is now named for.

Simutenkov's free kick goal gave the Wizards the first Open Cup title in the club's history, as the previous holders went down to defeat for the first time in four trips to the final of the USA's longest continuous sporting competition.

With both teams looking to claim the first trophy on offer this season, play began with an attacking mindset from each team which led to a variety of ideas and some individual penetrations but nothing cohesive as passes and combinations went awry.

GAME COVERAGE
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The Fire produced the first palpitation for Kansas City and returning goalkeeper Tony Meola in the 15th minute as Jamaica international Andy Williams danced by Francisco Gomez on the end line to Meola's left where he crossed only to see the ball cleared in front of goal before a teammate could latch on.

But this was the nearest joy Chicago would be allowed for the majority of the half as the home side soon took control with a mostly long ball approach.

In the 28th minute, after a scrum on the right wing deep in Chicago's half, Alex Zotinca whipped in a cross for Davy Arnaud who was able to escape Nate Jaqua's attention and hit a first-time screamer over the bar from only six yards out.

As the Wizards backs sent long balls forward, the active trio of Josh Wolff, Davy Arnaud and midfielder Jack Jewsbury endeavored time and again to get behind the Fire's back four to little or no avail. The long ball tactic did lead to a few set pieces deep in Chicago's end but Kansas City could not take advantage.

After being permitted only negligible attacks, the Fire nearly stole the lead through midfielder Logan Pause in the 43rd minute as he found a gaping hole in the right side of the Wizards defense. Pause streaked into the box and let go a tantalizing low shot begging for a Chicago tap-in only to see it slip past Meola's right post.

After the break, Wizards' head man Bob Gansler clearly wanted more as he inserted the slippery Simutenkov into the lineup for right winger Francisco Gomez.

The Wizards did not disappoint early. After some electric interchanging on the left side, Arnaud received the ball at the top right of Chicago's box, cut inside, and left-footed a screaming shot that blew just outside Fire 'keeper Henry Ring's left post in the 53rd minute.

Ring kept the Fire hopes alive with a sprawling save to his right 16 minutes later as Kansas City strove to break the increasing tension. Fighting for possession 20 yards in front of Ring, Wolff stabbed a pass to the approaching Kerry Zavagnin who struck on goal only to see Ring push the ball aside.

The Fire began to exert control over the ball as midfielder Williams began to orchestrate sustained, yet fruitless, possessions inside the Wizards box as full time lurked nearer. Chiming along with Williams was forward Dipsy Selolwane who raced with Wizards defender Nick Garcia to through balls, though Garcia won out most times.

A bright glint of opportunity shone for K.C. in the 85th minute as Wolff pointed the attack with a pass for Diego Gutierrez that split two Fire defenders. Gutierrez was all alone for the moment until Ring smartly rushed out and forced Gutierrez to shoot wide.

Chicago held the momentum heading into the extra-time session. But from the overtime kickoff, Kansas City was the aggressor.

After a restart, Kansas City pushed forward and earned a free kick 19 yards out on the far left side of the Fire goal after Evan Whitfield fouled Wolff who had received the ball on the break.

Simutenkov stepped up and hit a low rocket that streaked through the wall surprising Ring, who could not get a full hand on the ball. The ball careened off the underside of the crossbar and bounced over the goal line to give the Wizards possession of the Dewar Trophy, and the club honor to the competition's namesake.

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final

Chicago Fire vs. Kansas City Wizards

September 22, 2004 -- Arrowhead Stadium

Scoring Summary:

KC -- Igor Simutenkov 1 (unassisted) 95+

Chicago Fire -- Henry Ring, C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin, Evan Whitfield, Kelly Gray, Logan Pause (Chris Armas 88), Jesse Marsch, Andy Williams, Dipsy Selolwane, Nate Jaqua, Damani Ralph.

Substitutes Not Used: Craig Capano, Denny Clanton, D.J. Countess, Orlando Perez, Andy Herron, Alex Boucicaut.

TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Andy Williams 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 1 (Andy Williams 1); FOULS: 25 (6 tied with 3); OFFSIDES: 2 (Damani Ralph 1, Dipsy Selolwane 1); CORNER KICKS: 8 (Andy Williams 8); SAVES: 4 (Henry Ring 4)

Kansas City Wizards -- Tony Meola, Alex Zotinca, Jimmy Conrad, Nick Garcia, Jose Burciaga Jr., Francisco Gomez (Igor Simutenkov 46), Jack Jewsbury (Taylor Graham 68), Kerry Zavagnin, Diego Gutierrez, Josh Wolff, Davy Arnaud.

Substitutes Not Used: Justin Detter, Bo Oshoniyi, Matt Taylor, Shavar Thomas, Diego Walsh.

TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Josh Wolff 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (5 tied with 1); FOULS: 16 (Davy Arnaud 3, Jimmy Conrad 3); OFFSIDES: 4 (Jack Jewsbury 2, Josh Wolff 2); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Jose Burciaga Jr. 1); SAVES: 1 (Tony Meola 1)

Misconduct Summary:

CHI -- Logan Pause (caution; Delaying a Restart) 21

KC -- Diego Gutierrez (caution; Reckless Foul) 80

Referee: Terry Vaughn
Referee's Assistants: Nathan Clement; Greg Barkey
4th Official: Michael Kennedy
Weather: Clear-and-79-degrees

All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.


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