Fire a wet winner in their first U.S. Open Cup match
By BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media June 18, 2014 10:01PM
Chicago Fire Soccer Club new head coach Frank Yallop answers questions at a news conference after being introduced by owner Andrew Hauptman, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Updated: July 21, 2014 3:49PM
The weather conditions certainly weren’t right, the competition was far from what they usually face and the game was about 40 minutes shorter than normal.
But for the Fire, none of that diminished their rain-shortened 2-1 victory Wednesday over the USL PRO’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, even though that result will be nothing more than a footnote to one of the longest and strangest nights in club history.
“It’s been a while [since the Fire won],” coach Frank Yallop said. “Obviously, these games are never easy, but I thought we went about the game in the right manner.”
They weren’t helped by the elements, which caused two delays and the game’s eventual termination in the 49th minute.
The match started at 9:22 p.m. after a 1-hour, 52-minute rain delay, and the Fire went into halftime with a one-goal lead thanks to scores from Grant Ward and Mike Magee. Andrew Marshall connected in the 41st for the Riverhounds.
The teams went back onto the field to start the second half and looked to be moments away from kickoff, but the heavy rain and lightning made a swift and severe return, pushing the players back into their locker rooms. After another delay — one that ran nearly 1 hour, 15 minutes — the teams continued the game in front of an already-thin crowd thanks to the first delay. The second half began at 11:36 p.m.
It lasted less than four minutes before referee Alex Chilowicz spotted more lightning, ending the match and sending the Fire to a date with the Columbus Crew in the fifth round next Wednesday at Toyota Park. Before the resumption of the second half, both teams were told that there wouldn’t be any more delays and that the next weather-related stoppage would be the end.
“We decided to terminate the match in the 49th minute due to weather,” match administrator Nate Boyden said. “We did everything we could to try to play the game despite multiple delays, but we felt it was best to terminate the game due to player and fan safety.”
Because of the rain, the area in front of the south goal flooded before the game and the second half, forcing workers to squeegee the area dry, then pour sand in front of the net. The rest of the field also played slower than usual thanks to the sometimes-torrential downpour, though Yallop had few complaints with the playing surface.
“Obviously, kind of a weird waiting-around type of night,” Yallop said.
NOTE: Midfielder Logan Pause started and made his 26th Cup appearance, passing C.J. Brown for the most in club history.