While the Chicago Fire (4-8-7, 19 pts.) will take the week off from MLS action, the "Men in Red" will still have some important business to attend to when they travel to Richmond, V.A., to take on the A-League's Richmond Kickers on Wednesday in a quarterfinal contest in the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The next match in the Fire's defense of the Dewar Trophy will take place at the University of Richmond Stadium Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT. Fire fans can follow the match live via streaming audio on the team's official website, www.chicago-fire.com. While the Fire have struggled during a nine-game winless streak in league play, the "Men in Red" tasted victory for the only time in the last two months on July 20 when they defeated the Columbus Crew 2-1 in overtime in a fourth round contest. The Fire are looking to continue their push towards back-to-back titles in the competition, which has not been accomplished in over 20 years since the New York Pancyprian-Freedoms won consecutive titles in 1982-83.
The Fire and Kickers will be squaring off for the first time when they meet in Wednesday's quarterfinals. While they might not match the Fire's success in the tournament, the Kickers will be looking for multiple titles of their own after winning the 1995 U.S. Open Cup crown. The Fire have dominated since entering the U.S. Open Cup in 1998, collecting three titles (1998, 2000, 2003) and a 16-3-1 record, making them the most successful MLS team in the history of the tournament and the only top-flight squad to lift the Dewar Cup trophy on multiple occasions. The Fire's three championships mark the latest of the eight U.S. Open Cup titles brought back by teams based in the Windy City in the 90 years of the competition.
Chicago Fire ACE/Tru-Fit injury report
Gray, Kelly - L ankle sprain - probable
Marsch, Jesse - R ankle cartilage damage - out
Razov, Ante - R ankle bone spur - out
Whitfield, Evan - lower abdominal strain - out
For the record:
"It's a well-needed break. Everybody needs to clear their heads, get their minds off of soccer and start over, brand new. We are at the bottom of the table and we need a readjustment, so hopefully this break helps."
Fire veteran defender C.J. Brown on the Fire's two-week break in MLS play after nine winless games.
Four "Men in Red" help Eastern Conference to 3-2 victory in Sierra Mist 2004 MLS All-Star Game
Four members of the Chicago Fire helped pace the Eastern Conference to a 3-2 victory over their Western Conference comrades last Saturday in the Sierra Mist 2004 MLS All-Star Game at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. All four players - goalkeeper Henry Ring, defender Jim Curtin, midfielder Chris Armas and forward Damani Ralph - appeared in the starting 11 for Eastern Conference head coach - and former Fire captain - Peter Nowak on a sweltering day in the Nation's Capital that slowed down the pace of a game that is usually a scoring frenzy.
It would not take long for Ralph to earn his first-ever All-Star point, as the Jamaican registered an assist on the first of MetroStars midfielder Amado Guevara's two first-half goals in the 20th minute. Ring was also impressive in his first All-Star showing, earning the win by holding the West to a late goal by Brian Ching in the 43rd minute that cut the East lead to 2-1 going into halftime. Armas, Ring and Ralph would exit the match at the halftime break, but the always dependable Curtin went the entire 90 minutes in his All-Star debut.
Annual "Cruise With the Fire" sets sail Saturday on Lake Michigan
Time is running out to save a spot for the annual Cruise with the Fire event, which will take place this Saturday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. CT. Fans will have the opportunity to mingle with several Chicago Fire players and coaches during the cruise on Lake Michigan on the Mystic Blue. Eight members of the 2004 Fire squad - Scott Buete, Denny Clanton, Leonard Griffin, Nate Jaqua, Jesse Marsch, Henry Ring, Dipsy Selolwane and Evan Whitfield - will be along for the ride this year to meet fans and enjoy a scenic afternoon along the Windy City's lakefront. Ticket prices for the event are $70 per person and include a buffet dinner and drinks, silent auction and a live DJ. For more information on the event and how to reserve your spot, please call 312-705-7253 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.