With the Chicago Fire and Kansas City Wizards set to play in a league match in just two days time, the teams first had a strange preamble on Monday night at Toyota Park. Both teams took the chance to play many reserves, and it was the Fire that advanced to the quarterfinals with a 2-0 victory.
"I feel like a baseball manager, having to plan ahead for a two-game series", said Fire head coach Dave Sarachan.
Still, Sarachan was pleased his team was able to come away with the victory. It not only keeps them alive in the Open Cup, but it also ended a five-game winless streak, all in league play.
"Obviously winning the game is important. We were due for a win and this is a nice night to do it. It's a tournament so we advance in the tournament, and that's important," Sarachan said. "It was an opportunity for a number of guys to perform and it gave us a real good glimpse of what we can count on as we move forward with players. There were some bright spots for sure. It was a win, win, win scenario for us all the way around.
Sarachan was able to start players like Calen Carr, Brian Plotkin, Jared Montz and Floyd Franks -- who combined had a total of just 27 appearances in regular season play, and only three starts.
"I've been saying it all year, I feel we're a deep team. Knock on wood, we're also healthy now. Tonight we had a glimpse of what's to come; there were a lot of bright spots and I'd like to use this momentum," Sarachan said. "Wednesday is an important game for the Chicago Fire; we've got to win. We can use tonight's win to start heading north and not south."
Carr put the Fire into the lead in the 18th minute when he knocked home a Chad Barrett cross.
"We have a very deep team and we showed that tonight," Carr said. "That first goal energized the team and then we concentrated the next five minutes not to let down or give up a goal."
The game also gave Sarachan a chance to put his young charges in different positions. "I was playing a new position tonight," Carr said. "I've never played attacking mid, but I played on my instincts and had a good night and helped my team."
In addition to the young faces, there were also some familiar ones not recently seen. Jim Curtin returned to the Fire lineup for the first time since May 6 after suffering a fractured foot.
"This was a totally different game, a different competition. The way things went tonight, especially with our bench, the result could have been 5- or 6-0," Curtin said. "It sounds cliché, but tonight was a total team effort. A game coming down the stretch will come down to one play, whether offensively or defensively, and we've got to step it up. Tonight's game will help with that."
With the victory, it sets up a meeting with the New England Revolution on Aug. 23 at Toyota Park. That will provide a similar scenario to Monday's -- the Fire and Revolution will play in a league match just three days before in Foxborough.
"I've never seen this before. It's unique and will hopefully play to our advantage," Curtin said. "We're going to be getting sick of seeing each other."
Jack Daniel Chavez is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.