Chris Armas
Rafael Suanes/MLS/

Weekly update: Open Cup semis ahead

Fire vs. Charleston Battery -- U.S. Open Cup Semifinals -- Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium; Naperville, IL -- 7:30 p.m. CT -- Exclusive Live Audio on

Fire to Train, Hold Press Conference in Naperville Tuesday
The Chicago Fire will get reacquainted with its former home of Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium (formerly Cardinal Stadium) tomorrow afternoon when it trains at the North Central College facility from 11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m. CT. The "Men in Red" will officially return to the field they called home during the 2002 season and most of its 2003 campaign on Wednesday night when the Fire hosts the Charleston Battery in the semifinal round of the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Fire's last game in Naperville was a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy on Oct. 4, 2003, which ended the Fire successful run in the Western suburb with a 15-6-8 in MLS and U.S. Open Cup play.

In addition, the Chicago Fire will conduct a press conference Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. CT at the Holiday Inn Select, located at 1801 Naper Blvd, in Naperville to preview Wednesday's semifinal contest. Fire defender C.J. Brown and Assistant Coach Daryl Shore and Battery defender - and recent Chicago Storm signee - Ted Chronopoulos and Head Coach Chris Ramsey will be on hand to discuss the important showdown that will determine who will play for the 2004 crown in the nation's oldest soccer competition.

Potential Hosts for 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final Announced
U.S. Soccer has announced that Chicago, Charleston, SC and Kansas City, MO have been named as potential hosts for the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final, pending the outcomes of this week's semifinal contests. The Fire does not completely control its hosting fate, as it will have to hope that the San Jose Earthquakes first are able to defeat the Kansas City Wizards in Tuesday's other semifinal. Should the Fire and San Jose emerge victorious from their semifinal contests, Chicago would play host to the Earthquakes for the 2004 Open Cup championship on Wednesday, Sep. 22 at Soldier Field at 7:30 p.m. CT. If Chicago and Kansas City are the title combatants, it will be the Wizards who host the Sep. 22 final at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO at 7:30 p.m. CT. Soldier Field has twice played host to the Final of the U.S. Open Cup, with the Fire claiming both the 1998 and 2000 tournament crowns on its home turf.

Fire to Host Sep. 4 Doubleheader Featuring Club America vs. Pachuca as Part of Budweiser Hispanic Heritage Night
The Chicago Fire has announced that the club will host a doubleheader on Saturday, Sep. 4 in conjunction with broadcast partner Univision Radio as part of its annual Budweiser Hispanic Heritage Night at Soldier Field. In the first match, the Fire will host its Eastern Conference rival D.C. United - featuring former Fire captain and current D.C. Head Coach Peter Nowak and teenage phenom Freddy Adu - at 7:00 p.m. CT, while the second game will feature popular Mexican side Club America against Pachuca in a clash of Mexican First Division teams. Kick-off for the Fire-United contest has been moved up 30 minutes from its originally scheduled time of 7:30 p.m. to accommodate the doubleheader. Tickets to the doubleheader - the Fire's third twin bill of the 2004 season - are now on sale, with individual game tickets ranging from $20 (Firehouse) to $45 (VIP). Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster at or by calling 312-559-1212. Tickets can also be purchased at the Chicago Fire offices, 980 N. Michigan, Suite 1998 in Chicago, Monday-Friday from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more. For more information please call 1-888-MLS-FIRE.

Ralph Joins Razov as Fastest to 50 With Fire
Another spectacular strike of the foot of Damani Ralph gave the forward a piece of Fire history on Saturday night, as the 17-yard blast gave the Jamaican international his 50th point in a Fire uniform. The 24-year-old Ralph hit the 50-point plateau in his 45th game with the Fire, tying him with fellow forward Ante Razov as the fastest players to reach the mark in club history. The two points also moved the University of Connecticut product in front of both DaMarcus Beasley and Hristo Stoitchkov on the Fire's all-time scoring chart, where he now sits in seventh place, just two points behind Lubos Kubik for sixth place.

Boucicaut Makes Debut in Draw
After officially signing with the Fire last Tuesday and getting his clearance to play on Friday, midfielder Alexandre Boucicaut did indeed make his debut in a Fire uniform during the team's 1-1 draw with the Galaxy last Saturday at The Home Depot Center. The 22-year-old Haitian international logged 23 minutes in a substitute role for Fire Head Coach Dave Sarachan's side, replacing forward Nate Jaqua in the 67th minute.

Wednesday Media Luncheon Series Takes Two Weeks Off Beginning This Week
Due to its Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal clash versus the Charleston Battery Wednesday night in Naperville, the Chicago Fire Media Relations Department has announced that its weekly Wednesday Media Luncheon series has been cancelled for this Wednesday, Aug. 25. Another home contest on Sep. 1 has pushed the next scheduled Wednesday Media Luncheon with the Fire to Wednesday, Sep. 8, beginning after the Fire's training session at Lake Forest College at 12:00 p.m. CT.


  • The Fire's Mexican League sister club, Monarcas Morelia, will pick up its 2004 COMEX Apetura season Tuesday afternoon with a rare midweek match on the road at Toluca (1-0-0, 3 pts.) at Nemesio Diaz Stadium in Toluca at 3:00 p.m. CT. With three of the four teams in action over the weekend in Group One picking up wins, Morelia (0-1-0, 0 pts.) will look to keep pace with the front-runner U.A.G (2-0-0, 6 pts.). Morelia will also take to the field this upcoming weekend, as the "Monarchs" will host Veracruz (0-1-0, 0 pts.) at Morelos Stadium in Morelia Saturday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. CT.
  • The Fire would like to send happy birthday wishes to a pair of hard-nosed defensive midfielders. Team captain Chris Armas, the elder statesman of the "Men in Red," will celebrate his 32nd birthday this Friday, Aug. 27, while his midfield partner Logan Pause turned 23 years of age on Sunday, Aug. 22.

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