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Atlanta United vs. Chicago Fire | 2018 US Open Cup Match Preview

Atlanta United vs. Chicago Fire
2018 U.S. Open Cup - Round of 16

Mercedes-Benz Stadium - Atlanta
June 20 - 7:30 pm ET

Mercedes-Benz Stadium will host its first U.S. Open Cup match on Wednesday night as Atlanta United meet Eastern Conference rival Chicago Fire in the Round of 16.

For a second straight year, the Five Stripes defeated Charleston Battery in the Fourth Round, while the Fire needed 11 rounds of a penalty-kick shootout to oust Columbus Crew SC.

Atlanta United    

In front of the largest crowd for a sporting event in Fifth Third Bank Stadium history (9,742), Atlanta cruised to a 3-0 win over Charleston with Andrew Carleton opening the scoring in the 14th minute. Ezequiel Barco added a penalty kick two minutes into the second half and Romario Williams tacked on a 64th-minute insurance tally.

Atlanta returned to MLS play to earn a 1-1 draw with New York City FC, the first away team to take a point from Yankee Stadium this season, and then defeated Crew SC, 2-0, on Wednesday. Josef Martinez added onto lead in the MLS Golden Boot race with his league-high 14th goal on the half-hour mark and Hector Villalba returned from injury put the game away in the 82nd minute.

“That is what it means to have a goal scorer like him on your team, because not only was it his first real chance to score, but he hadn’t participated much in the game up until that point,” Tata Martino said of Martinez, who left the match with a possible broken nose. “So, he just needed one chance and he was able to help us.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: D - Greg Garza (shoulder injury), D - Chris McCann (left lower extremity injury); QUESTIONABLE: M - Miguel Almiron (shoulder injury), F - Josef Martinez (nose)

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK: Alec Kann — Franco Escobar, Miles Robinson, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Sal Zizzo — Julian Gressel, Kevin Kratz — Brandon Vazquez, Ezequiel Barco, Andrew Carleton — Romario Williams

  • Notes: After playing their previous USOC home games at Fifth Third Bank Stadium, Atlanta United will play their first USOC match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday. “We’re excited to host our first Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” club president Darren Eales said in a statement. “Over the last year, our amazing fans have helped us set nearly every attendance record in North America and we’re looking forward to setting another one in two weeks.”

Chicago Fire

Nemanja Nikolic scored goals 64 minutes apart, including the go-ahead goal in extra time, but Adam Jahn leveled five minutes later for Crew SC as the teams played to a 2-2 stalemate over 120 minutes. It took a record-tying 11th round, but goalkeeper Richard Sanchez scored the clinching penalty kick after stopping Logan Ketterer’s chance in a wild 10-9 shootout victory.

Following a 1-1 draw against the New England Revolution, the Fire played the Colorado Rapids to a 2-2 draw Wednesday night in Commerce City. After falling behind 2-0 after 15 minutes, Chicago pulled a goal back on a Danny Wilson own goal and Aleksandar Katai equalized three minutes later.

The Fire ended the match with 10 men after Johan Kappelhof was sent off on a straight red card in the 84h minute.

“It’s disappointing,” Veljko Paunovic said. “It’s disappointing for many reasons. This is not the image that we want and we have to make changes. We have to make changes technically, with our attitude, and with our behavior on the road, especially early in the game.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: M - Djordje Mihailovic (right ACL surgery), F - Michael de Leeuw (left ACL surgery), D - Matt Polster (MCL surgery), GK - Patrick McLain (hamstring injury), D - Drew Conner (right calf injury)

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK: Richard Sanchez — Rafael Ramos, Johan Kappelhof, Grant Lillard, Jorge Corrales — Brandt Bronico, Tony Tchani — Luis Solignac, Daniel Johnson, Diego Campos — Nemanja Nikolic

  • Notes: In addition to their four trophies raised in the historic tournament in 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006, the Fire have appeared in 12 tournament semifinals, including five in the last seven years. The Fire own an all-time U.S. Open Cup record of 47-16.

All-Time in U.S. Open Cup

  • Overall: Chicago Fire 47 wins … 116 goals … Atlanta United 2 wins … 8 goals
  • This is the first U.S. Open Cup meeting between Atlanta United and Chicago Fire