August 30, 2011
Kathryn L. Knapp
ON TO THE FINAL
Fire heads to seventh Open Cup final
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – For the sixth time in its 14 seasons, the Chicago Fire is returning to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final. Tuesday night, the Fire continued its winning ways, topping the Richmond Kickers 2-1 in front of 8,909 at Toyota Park.
|Dominic Oduro scored the winning goal to lead the Fire to a 2-1 win over Richmond.
Linda Cuttone / SportsVue Images
Prior to Tuesday, the Fire held a 5-2-0 all-time in U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Out of those previous five final appearances, the Fire won four Championships – 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006.
In the 14th minute, Richmond’s Stanley Nyazamba took down Dominic Oduro with a hard tackle, earning the first yellow of the match. Two minutes later, the Fire’s Patrick Nyarko fired a shot at goal. Kickers’ goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale made the save.
Richmond’s Edson Elcock headed an attempt wide right in the 18th minute for their first attempt of the match, and lone shot on goal in the first half.
Things heated up in the 32nd minute. Oduro was tackled again, only this time it was in the box. The referee awarded a penalty kick for the Fire. Sebastian Grazzini stepped up to the spot and drilled it into the lower right corner for a 1-0 Fire lead. Grazzini almost doubled the score before the half, dribbling the ball toward goal and shooting it over the crossbar.
Chicago’s Logan Pause took a shot for the Fire in the 58th minute. The Fire captain kicked a soft ball right at the center of the goal, where Pascale grabbed it for the save. In the 61st minute, Oduro rushed toward goal. From just outside the 18, Oduro struck, bending the ball into the lower right corner for a 2-0 advantage.
“That was a world class goal,” Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas said. “It was just fantastic.”
Richmond finally had a good look at goal in the 68th minute. Michael Callahan found William Yomby who sent the ball into the goal. The ball appeared to bounce off the posts, but it went in, cutting the Fire’s lead to 2-1.
Baggio Husidic, who entered the match at the half, sent a high ball toward goal in the 80th minute. It sailed wide right. Oduro collided with Pacale in the 86th minute, hitting the pitch rather hard. Both players resumed play. Diego Chaves replaced Oduro in the 89th minute.
Richmond threw everything at the Fire during the final four minutes of injury time. But Chicago held strong for the 2-1 win.
“We made it a little hard on ourselves,” Nyarko said. “A lack of concentration on one set-piece led to a goal. Our guys knew what was at stake tonight.”
Chicago advances to its sixth Open Cup Final and will face the winner of FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders, which kicked off at 9:00 p.m. CT in Tukwila, Wash. The final will be held October 4th in either Seattle (if the Sounders win) or Bridgeview (if FC Dallas wins). Richmond exits the tournament as the last non-MLS team standing.