Fire, Wizards reprise '04 USOC final

Wed., Aug. 14, Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill. (7:30 p.m. CT)

It's a rematch of the 2004 U.S. Open Cup Final as the Kansas City Wizards hit the road to take on the Chicago Fire - heading to a place where they've won only once ever in league play. Two years ago, the Wizards defeated the Fire 1-0 in extra time for their only U.S. Open Cup title; it was the fourth time the Fire have played for the Dewar Trophy, winning three.

IN THE OPEN CUP: The most successful MLS team in the history of the USA's oldest competition, they've won the title three times in the eight years of their existence, have been losing finalist one other time, and have lost in the semifinals on two other occasions, including last year. ... They won 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. In 2004, 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).

LAST YEAR: The Fire were knocked out in the semifinals as FC Dallas won the first time ever at their new Pizza Hut Park home, a 1-0 victory through a 20th-minute goal from Ronnie O'Brien. In the quarterfinals, the Fire went on the road for the third time, defeating the Rochester Raging Rhinos on penalties 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, before a perfect session of penalty kicks sent the "Men in Red" through to their sixth semifinal appearance in eight chances. ... 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 (Joseph 22; Dorman 120 - Herron 22, 99; Brown 96). ... 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. (Neil Krause 5 - Will John 16, 47+; Lubos Reiter 24)

IN THE U.S. OPEN CUP: After losing their first Open Cup match in five of the first seven years they entered the competition, the Wizards have now survived their first test each of the last three seasons. ... In 2004, the Wizards won it all, claiming the Dewar Trophy for the first time (when they defeated the Fire), then reached the quarterfinals last year. ... It took the Wizards five tries to record their first victory in Open Cup play. The Wizards came into the competition at the quarterfinals in 1996, but lost to Colorado Rapids. After the '96 loss, Wizards lost to lower division competition in 1997 (1-2 to San Francisco Bay Seals, D3), 1998 (1-3 to Nashville Metros, A-League) and 2000 (on penalties to Chicago Sockers, PDL). ... In 2003, the Rapids defeated the Wizards 3-2 in the fourth round, the fifth time in their first seven appearances in the competition they were dumped out at the first hurdle. ... On four of seven occasions against MLS competition, the Wizards have lost, the only three wins coming in their 2004 title chase, in the quarterfinals (Dallas Burn 4-0); semifinals (San Jose Earthquakes 1-0) and final (Chicago Fire 1-0). ... Last year, the Wizards defeated the PDL Des Moines Menace 6-1 at Park University in the fourth round, then their title defense came to a stunning end in the quarterfinals in a shock 3-1 defeat by the Minnesota Thunder (USL1).

THIS YEAR: The Wizards left it late but survived their third-round tie in the U.S. Open Cup, defeating the PDL Des Moines Menace (fourth tier) 2-1 at Blue Valley Athletic Complex. A year after defeating the same Des Moines club 6-1 in the fourth round of the competition, it took the Wizards 63 minutes to break down the massed defense, Ryan Pore sent in by Scott Sealy to finish. But nine minutes later Brad Whitsett headed home a corner kick to pull Des Moines level. In stoppage time, Scott Sealy finished off a counterattack to give the Wizards the victory and send them into a fourth-round date away to the Chicago Fire. ... Here's Bob Gansler's team: Will Hesmer; Matt Groenwald (Sergei Raad 46), Shavar Thomas, Brian Roberts, Stephen Shirley; Ryan McMahen, Ryan Raybould, Jack Jewsbury, Yura Movsisyan (Will John 46); Ryan Pore (Eddie Johnson 75), Scott Sealy

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