Revived Fire ready for Richmond in U.S. Open Cub semi
By Len Ziehm Special to the Sun-Times August 29, 2011 6:02PM
Updated: August 29, 2011 6:04PM
The revived Fire has won its last two matches at Toyota Park, both against Major League Soccer opponents, while the minor-league Richmond Kickers are coming off a onesided loss and will be playing their sixth match in 20 days.
That suggests the Fire will have an easy time in Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal match in Bridgeview, but interim coach Frank Klopas doesn’t see it that way.
``You see big upsets in tournaments like this all over the world,’’ Klopas sAid. ``We can’t underestimate any opponent. This next match isn’t going to be easy.’’
Richmond is a member of the United Soccer League’s Pro division. On Saturday, the Kickers were thumped 3-0 by the Orlando City Lions, a defeat which kept Richmond from going to its league championship match. The Kickers, though, eliminated two MLS clubs — the Columbus Crew and Sporting Kansas City — in the last two rounds of the Open Cup, a summer-long tourney that has been played annually since 1914 and is open to all professional and amateur clubs in the U.S.
The Fire has won the Open Cup four times, the last in 2006. If the Fire can get by the Kickers it’ll meet either the two-time defending champion Seattle Sounders or FC Dallas in an Oct. 4 final. The championship will be decided in Seattle if the Sounders defeat FC Dallas on Tuesday in Seattle. The site of the final will be Toyota Park if the Fire and FC Dallas are the semifinal survivors.
After five dismal months the Fire has come to life in August, going 2-0-2 in MLS play after losing at Vancouver on Aug. 7. Saturday’s 2-0 win over defending MLS champion Colorado was the Fire’s best performance of the season, and the club won’t play again until Sept. 10 after facing Richmond.
``Confidence-wise it’s good coming into this game with two home victories,’’ said Fire forward Patrick Nyarko. ``After the trials and tribulations of this season, we’re going to go out there and try to win a trophy.’’
``We were just unfortunate early on in the season, but now it’s all coming together,’’ said defender Cory Gibbs. ``We can’t live off these two wins. We’ve got to keep pushing.’’