BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – After what was very much a game of two halves, Chicago Fire head coach Frank Yallop lauded the fight and spirit of his players as they clawed their way back from 2-1 down to beat the Columbus Crew 4-2 and advance to the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup.
Despite dominating an entertaining first half the Fire only held a one-goal lead at the interval thanks to Patrick Ianni’s 34th-minute opener as it looked like the hosts would go on to win the tie comfortably.
However, the decision of Crew coach Gregg Berhalter to introduce Jairo Arrieta for Justin Meram up top swung the tie in Columbus’ favor as they raced out of the blocks and into a 2-1 lead by the 70th minute.
“We said at halftime they were going to make changes because I thought we completely outplayed them in the first half,” Yallop said in his post-match press conference.
“They brought Arrieta on for Meram and he made a difference. They were more forceful and they tried to quickly counterattack on us and, to be honest, they did a good job. Until we kind of figured it out towards the end of the game we were in a bit of trouble.”
Yallop’s decision to bring on Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Alex helped stem the tide somewhat, before another substitute, Juan Luis Anangono, produced a virtuoso performance of his own to claim two goals as the Fire went on to triumph 4-2 in extra time.
“To score four goals in any game, even though we had an extra 30 minutes, is good,” Yallop enthused. “I’m pleased for the guys and I was very happy for Juan to get his two goals tonight.”
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He continued: “What I will say about Juan is he is a terrific professional, he’s been right with the team all along even though he’s not getting many minutes lately because of [Quincy Amarikwa's] play, if you like. But what I like about the way he goes about it he tries very hard for the team and I’m very happy for him to get the two goals tonight.”
Ecuadorian Anangono (pictured above, left), who has two regular season goals thus far on the back of limited playing time, brushed off the attention of his first brace for the club.
“I don’t feel that there is one hero, there’s a lot of people on the field, there’s also people on the bench, and if there’s going to be one hero I think it’s going to be the team as a whole,” he said.