the most successful MLS team in Open Cup play -- has captured the Dewar Cup Trophy three times (1998, 2000 and 2003) and will look to build on its impressive 15-3-1 Open Cup record during the midweek contest in Columbus. After its match against the Crew and in the midst of its busiest month of the season, the Fire (4-5-7, 19 points, 4th in East) will return to MLS action, facing the MetroStars (6-6-5, 23 points, 1st in East) in the second game of the home-and-home series on Saturday, July 24 from Giants Stadium (6:30 p.m. CT, FSN).
The winner of the Fire-Crew match will take on either D.C. United or the Richmond Kickers (A-League, USL). United and Richmond will square off in the final match of the fourth round on Wednesday at the University of Richmond Stadium in Richmond, Va., at 6 p.m. CT. Should the Fire emerge from the fourth round Tuesday evening, it will have to take to the road again in order to advance through to the semifinals. In the quarterfinal round, Chicago would play either Richmond at the University of Richmond Stadium (6 p.m. CT) or D.C. United at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC (6:30 p.m. CT) on Wednesday, Aug. 4.
Saturday's match against the MetroStars will mark the fourth and final meeting between the Eastern Conference rivals in the 2004 regular season. The Fire will look to build on its impeccable 4-0-3 record against Bob Bradley, and improve upon its all-time regular season record, which currently stands at 12-4-3. The Fire is undefeated in its last ten games against the MetroStars, including a 1-0 victory over the MetroStars on Oct. 15, 2003 in the 2003 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final in East Rutherford, N.J. Ante Razov leads the Fire in scoring against the "Black-and-Red" with 26 points on 11g, 4a in 16 appearances.
Chicago Fire ACE/Tru-Fit Injury Report
Armas, Chris - R knee inflammation - probable
Marsch, Jesse - R ankle cartilage damage - out
Razov, Ante - R ankle sprain - out
Whitfield, Evan - R abdominal strain - out
Fire bring rich Open Cup history into 2004 tournament
Despite its short history in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament, the Chicago Fire has already amassed a rich tradition in the country's oldest knockout soccer competition. The Fire's 15-3-1 Open Cup record and three championship rings makes Chicago the most successful MLS team in the history of the tournament. The "Men in Red" have dominated in the tournament, outscoring opponents 40-17 all-time in the tourney. The Fire's inaugural year in the league and in the tournament proved to be a triumphant one. On Oct. 30, 1998, the team stunned the league and became the second team in MLS history to win "The Double" when hometown hero Frank Klopas scored a "golden goal" in the 99th minute of play to help the Fire to a 2-1 overtime win over the Columbus Crew. After losing in the third round of the tournament in 1999, the team reclaimed the championship the following year with an exciting 2-1 victory over the Miami Fusion at Soldier Field on Oct. 20, 2000. After a two-year hiatus from the final, the Fire made its return to the tournament's championship last Fall, when it made history by becoming the first team in the MLS-era of the competition to win the Cup on the road by defeating the MetroStars 1-0 at Giants Stadium in Oct. 15, 2003.
Trial by Fire begins this week for Herron and Thiago
Chicago will welcome a pair of trialists -- Costa Rican M/F Andy Herron and Brazilian midfielder Thiago -- into its camp for four days of training with the club beginning this Thursday. Herron, a 23-year-old attacking player, is already a mainstay on the Costa Rican National Team and proved his worth by scoring the winning goal for the "Ticos" last Wednesday in the 93+ minute against Chile, helping Costa Rica advance into the quarterfinals of the Copa America tournament in Peru. Herron was a member of one of Costa Rica's most successful teams, Club Sport Herediano from 2002-2004, helping the team to Costa Rica's Torneo Clausura title in 2004 while also being named the league's scoring leader with 12 goals and 13 assists. Thiago, a 22-year-old playmaking midfielder, is also an offensive minded player known for his play-making ability. He currently plays for Sao Paulo's Ginásio Pinhalense de Esportes Atléticos and last Sunday, he helped the squad qualify for the Sao Paulo State Championship's play-off round.
"These are players we believe would be affordable using the allocation we received for Carlos' [Bocanegra] departure in January," said Fire GM Peter Wilt. "If DaMarcus' deal goes through, we would expect to receive a sizable allocation that could be used now or later to improve the roster."
Both players will train with the Fire at Lake Forest College through Tuesday, July 27.
Fire past halfway mark in busiest month of 2004
Another week, another two games for the Chicago Fire, who continues to fight through a month of July that will see the "Men in Red" play seven times before the MLS All-Star Weekend. After coming off a week in which the Fire played three matches, Chicago will begin a stretch of three games in nine days this Tuesday with its 4th Round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup contest at the Columbus Crew. The Fire will then travel to New Jersey to take on the MetroStars in the return match of their home-and-home series this Saturday before concluding the month with another road trip, this time to Denver to face the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday, July 28. While five members of the squad will end the month by appearing in the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game on July 31 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., the others will truly enjoy what will be a welcome -- and deserved -- All-Star break.
Capano helps U.S. U-20s to 2-2 draw with Denmark in Milk Cup Opener
Fire midfielder Craig Capano started in the United States Under-20 national team's 2-2 draw with Denmark last Saturday that opened up the team's four-game run in the prestigious international youth tournament. The recently turned 19-year-old midfielder helped the "Stars-and-Stripes" score in the 40th minute when his through ball eventually paid off on a Stuart Holden tally that gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead. Capano will be unavailable for the Fire for its next two matches (July 20 at CLB and July 24 at MET) during his duty for Head Coach Thomas Rongen's youth side. The U.S. U-20s will continue Group B play against Turkey on Monday and finish with Wales on Wednesday (6 a.m. CT) before ending the tournament with a placement match against a Group A opponent -- Brazil, Israel, Northern Ireland or Russia -- on Friday.
Shirts off the Fire's backs earn big donations to FireWorks For Kids Foundation
The FireWorks for Kids Foundation -- the Fire's charitable arm -- would like to thank all the people who participated in last Saturday's jersey auction, which raised over $9,300. The Fire's weekend match served as the unveiling of the Fire's alternate uniform -- a yellow, red and blue kit that pays tribute to the club's Mexican sister club Monarcas Morelia, which played in a friendly match against Necaxa following the Fire-Metros game at Soldier Field. The jersey auction is one of many other annual events organized by the FireWorks for Kids Foundation to help raise money for disadvantaged youth throughout Chicagoland through grants and scholarships. For more information on the FireWorks for Kids Foundation, please call 312-705-7218.