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Sporting Kansas City

22 May 11:23 am

Should the Chicago Fire come away victorious over the Charlotte Eagles in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup next Wednesday, the team is guaranteed to host its fourth round match against either the Columbus Crew or Dayton Dutch Lions on Wednesday, June 12 at Toyota Park.

I'll have a full play-by-play of the draw later today on Chicago-Fire but until then, see below all fourth round U.S. Open Cup matchups:

#1 – New England Revolution/Rochester Rhinos hosts Reading United AC/New York Red Bulls winner
 
#2 – D.C. United/Richmond Kickers winner hosts Ocean City Nor’easters/Philadelphia Union winner
 
#3 Chicago Fire hosts Dayton Dutch Lions/Columbus Crew winner
                -or- Columbus Crew host Charlotte Eagles
                -or- Dayton Dutch Lions host Charlotte Eagles
 
#4 – Sporting KC host Colorado Rapids/Orlando City winner
                -or- Colorado Rapids/Orlando City hosts Des Moines Menace
 
#5 – FC Dallas hosts FC Tucson/Houston Dynamo winner
                -or- Houston Dynamo hosts Ft. Lauderdale Strikers
                -or- Ft. Lauderdale Strikers vs. FC Tucson (Host TBD)
 
#6 – LA Galaxy/Carolina Railhawks winner hosts Chivas USA/LA Blues winner
 
#7 – Atlanta Silverbacks/Real Salt Lake winner hosts San Jose Earthquakes/Charleston Battery winner
 
#8 – Seattle Sounders will host Wilmington Hammerheads/Portland Timbers winner
                -or- Portland Timbers will host Tampa Bay Rowdies
                -or- Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Wilmington Hammerheads (Host TBD)

15 May 4:50 pm

In case you missed it, I had the opportunity to serve as a witness for today's Third Round U.S. Open Cup draw at Soccer House in Chicago.

I detailed the interesting tidbits of how the draw is done but in case you don't want to nerd out, just check out the potential third round matchups below...

HOME TEAMS LISTED FIRST

#1 Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL-Pro) vs. Philadelphia Union -or- Philadelphia Union vs. Ocean City Nor'easters

#2 Richmond Kickers (USL-Pro) vs. D.C. United -or- D.C. United vs. Icon FC (USASA)

#3 Rochester Rhinos (USL-Pro) vs. New England Revolution -or- New England Revolution vs. GPS Portland Phoenix (USL PDL)

#4 Charlotte Eagles (USL-Pro) vs. Chicago Fire -or- Chicago Fire vs. Seattle Sounders U-23 (USL PDL)

#5 Orlando City Lions (USL-Pro) vs. Colorado Rapids -or- Colorado Rapids vs. Ocala Stampede (USL PDL)

#6 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) / Laredo Heat (USL PDL) vs. FC Dallas

#7 Charleston Battery (USL-Pro) / Portland Timbers U-23 vs. San Jose Earthquakes

#8 Sporting KC vs. Minnesota United FC (NASL) - Des Moines Menace (USL PDL) / Madison 56ers (NPSL)

#9 Real Salt Lake vs. Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL) / Georgia Revolution (USASA)

#10 LA Blues (USL-Pro) / Ventura County Fusion (USL PDL)  vs. Chivas USA

#11 Carolina Rail Hawks (NASL) / Carolina Dynamo (USL PDL) vs. LA Galaxy

#12 Columbus Crew vs. Dayton Dutch Lions (USL-Pro) / Dearborn SC (USASA) winner

#13 New York Red Bulls  vs. Harrisburg City Islanders (USL-Pro) / Reading United (USL PDL) winner 

#14 San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) / FC Tucson (USL PDL vs. Houston Dynamo

#15 Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) vs. Seattle Sounders FC -or- Seattle Sounders vs. VSI Tampa Bay (USL-Pro)

#16 Portland Timbers vs. Wilmington Hammerheads (USL-Pro) / Austin Aztex (USL PDL)

24 April 2:29 pm

Today we look back on one of the most impressive come back wins in club history which came almost 10 years ago when the Fire visited the Kansas City Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium on April 26, 2003.

While the team was destined for their first and still only MLS Supporter’s Shield that season, they hit early bumps in the road under new head coach Dave Sarachan (photo right), drawing their first two matches of the season (1-1 vs. New England and 0-0 at D.C. United).

PERUSE: TrueCar Player Registry

Early in this one, things didn’t seem to get any better as Preki’s free kick found Igor Simutenkov in the 25th minute before the naturalized U.S. international’s corner was headed home at the back post by Jimmy Conrad in the 38th to give KC a 2-0 halftime lead.

"The only [halftime] adjustment we made was to challenge them," Sarachan told the Chicago Tribune. "We asked them if they were going to hang their heads or do something about it."

The challenge was met just after halftime when Orlando Perez sent a blistering left-footed effort from just inside 30 yards out past Tony Meola in the 53rd minute.

Twelve minutes later Andy Williams would bring things level, receiving a pass from Perez on the left before right-footing his effort past Meola from just outside the box.

FUN FACTS

* Ralph’s match-winner was the first of his Fire career and one of 11 he would go on to score in his MLS Rookie of the Year campaign. 

"I'm glad I gave the team the lift it needed and it gave me the confidence I needed too," he said post-game.

* The win was also the first of Dave Sarachan’s tenure as head coach and pushed the side on to that year’s Supporters Shield, still the only time the club has taken the honor.

* This marked just the second time in club history the Fire came back from a two-goal deficit to win in regulation. The club has achieved that feat just three times in a total of 470 regular season matches. 

The Others: Chicago Fire 4, Dallas Burn 3 (May 24, 2000), Chicago Fire 3, Colorado Rapids 2 (August 23, 2009)

* The game was just the second of current Fire captain Logan Pause's career. Pause, DaMarcus Beasley and Carlos Bocanegra are the only three active players left out of the 23 that played on the day... 

BOX SCORE

CHI – Zach Thornton; C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin, Carlos Bocanegra, Orlando Perez; Evan Whitfield, Logan Pause, Chris Armas ©, DaMarcus Beasley; Andy Williams (Kelly Gray 87’), Rodrigo Faria (Damani Ralph 65’)

KC – Tony Meola ©; Diego Gutierrez (Dario Fabbro 71’), Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, Jose Burciaga Jr.; Chris Klein, Preki, Carey Talley; Eric Quill (Kerry Zavagnin 67’), Igor Simutenkov (Chris Brown 62’), Josh Wolff (Bo Oshonyi 82’)

Scoring Summary
KC – Igor Simutenkov (Jimmy Conrad, Preki) 25’
KC  - Jimmy Conrad (Preki) 38’
CHI – Orlando Perez (unassisted) 53’
CHI – Andy Williams (unassisted) 65’
CHI – Damani Ralph (Andy Williams) 70’

Misconduct Summary
CHI - Evan Whitfield (caution) 43'
KC - Carey Talley (caution) 44'
CHI - Carlos Bocanegra (caution) 50'
 
11 April 9:27 am

Maicon Santos’ two-goal substitute performance had me thinking this week, how often have Fire players come off the bench to tally a brace?

The Answer: It’s a very rare thing… Santos’ effort on Sunday was just the fifth time (or .008%) in the club’s 573 all-time competitive matches that a player has scored two goals off the bench. It was just the third time in MLS league play and first since 2006.

The others...

Orr Barouch - Chicago Fire 4, New York Red Bulls 0 - U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal (7/12/2011)

In a memorable match that was moved up to 5pm because of a massive power outage at Toyota Park, Barouch came on at halftime for Cristian Nazarit with the Fire already leading 2-0. It took the Israeli youth international just five minutes to make it 3-0 before closing the scoring off a feed from Diego Chaves in the 69th minute (WATCH).

PERUSE: TrueCar Player Registry

Barouch led the side with three goals in Open Cup play on the way to the tournament final that year.

Chad Barrett – Chicago Fire 2, Real Salt Lake 1 – MLS Regular Season (6/28/2006)

Throughout much of his first two seasons with the Men in Red, Chad Barrett was an oft-used second half attacking sub. In this match, he repaid Dave Sarachan’s faith in him, entering for captain Chris Armas in the 68th minute before heading home the equalizer off a cross from Justin Mapp in the 80th minute (WATCH).

Five minutes later, Mapp would slot Barrett through the RSL backline before the second-year striker put slid his effort past Scott Garlick and in off the post for the winner (WATCH).

The effort was the first of two braces for Barrett during his time with the Men in Red, the other coming in a 5-1 victory at Red Bull on May 25, 2008.

Dipsy Selolwane – Chicago Fire 4, San Juan Jabloteh 0 – CONCACAF Champions Cup (3/17/2004)

With the team coming off a somewhat shocking 5-2 first leg defeat away to the Trinidadian side, the Men in Red returned to Soldier Field needing four goals in the second leg in order to advance.

Though Damani Ralph took the aggregate score to 5-3 just before halftime, Selolwane entered for current Fire captain Logan Pause to provide more offense after the break. The Botswanan international’s long-range effort in the 51st minute brought the Fire to within a goal before his empty net finish 11 minutes later brought the score level.

Selolwane proved to be Man of the Match when he set up Chris Armas’ 90th minute series winner to push the Fire past Jabloteh 6-5 on aggregate and into the Champions Cup semifinals.

Interestingly, that performance was the only brace of Selolwane's Fire career, though he did come up with back-to-back game-winners in the team's run to the U.S. Open Cup final that season.

Hristo Stoitchkov – Chicago Fire 7, Kansas City Wizards 0 – MLS Regular Season (7/4/2001)

Of course the Mad Bulgarian was the first to do this with the Fire and of course it came in the Fourth of July Massacre.  

With the team already leading 4-0, there was little need for Stoitchkov to come on in the 78th. One minute after entering the match, Piotr Nowak scored his second to take the game to 5-0 and then Stoitchkov proceeded to drive the dagger in tallying in the 83rd and 88th minutes to exact revenge for the Fire’s MLS Cup loss to Kansas City the year before (WATCH). 

Like Barrett, Stoitchkov tallied two braces while with the Men in Red. The first came in his debut appearance, a 4-2 Opening Day loss to the Dallas Burn on March 18, 2000.

09 April 2:29 pm

Last month we asked you to help us pick who our Quaker Bobblehead giveaway should be for our July 7 game against Sporting KC.

After two weeks of voting, it was clear that one player campaigned much harder than the rest of his teammates for the right to be immortalized on a Quaker Bobblehead.

The first 5,000 supporters into Toyota Park that day will receive one. Get your tickets here!

16 March 5:30 pm

Select shots from Saturday's 0-0 draw vs. Sporting Kansas City
 

Credit: USA Today Sports Images

15 March 9:20 am

A nice reminder of June 29, 2012.

The Goal:

The Celebration:

The Despair:

15 March 9:17 am

The Fire head to Kansas City Saturday afternoon (2:00pm CT on NBC Sports Network) on the back of two losses to start the season. The team has yet to score a goal or secure point but face a KC team smarting after a loss in Toronto last week. Both will be looking to kick start their season with a big win. Here are some tactical things to look out for.

Right back – three games, three different starters?

With injuries to both Logan Pause and Steven Kinney, it is likely the Fire will have to start a third different right back already this season. Jalil Anibaba started on the right against LA and had a difficult time of things but looked much more comfortable in his natural position at center back last week against New England.

With Kinney out, its almost assured that Anibaba will partner with Austin Berry in the middle which means we will likely see Mike Videra or Wells Thompson on the right. Both played there for a bit of preseason and Videra played at right back for the Men in Red during the 2011 season.

READ: Videira or Thompson at right back?

Previewing Sporting KC

Wells is the more experienced player and like Pause, has played in numerous positions during his MLS career. In a hostile atmosphere away from home, communication between the defenders will be key.

KC are particularly dangerous down the wings and Patrick Nyarko will need to be on hand to help out either Thompson or Videra who will face constant overlapping by the KC wing-backs.

Pressuring KC – copy the Toronto model

Sporting KC lost 2-1 in Toronto last week falling behind 2-0 after only twenty minutes. TFC pressured Sporting from the first whistle and it worked extremely well, with SKC constantly giving the ball away.

TFC’s first goal of the game came from pressuring and ganging up on the Sporting KC players. Folks will remember the goal stemming from a bad pass between Matt Besler and Aurelian Collin, but the reason the center backs had the ball at all was because TFC forced Sporting all the way back to their defenders.

TFC clearly flustered Sporting and the pressure prevented SKC from being able to get the ball to their danger men Claudio Bieler and Graham Zusi. Toronto was unable to keep up the pressure for more than the first half and in the second, KC was able to impose their game.

If the Fire can start in a similar fashion to TFC last week and sustain the pressure throughout the game (a tough ask, I know) it would go a long way towards allowing SKC to dictate the tempo, something they will look to do as the home team.

Testing Jimmy Neilson – difference between chances and half chances

A lot of the talk after the first two games of the season was that the Fire created many chances, but were unable to finish them. If we examine the amount of genuine saves Carlo Cudicini and Matt Reis actually had to make though, the numbers are very small, both have to overexert themselves on only one occasion, with the rest of the shots being hit right at them.

Both times the Fire forced the opposition ‘keeper into making a fine save was from shots outside the box. When the Fire do get the ball in the box, the team as a whole needs to start showing a bit of composure instead of rushing shots.

Muzzling Zusi – double teaming and picking him up when he comes inside

For the past few seasons, Graham Zusi has been Sporting’s best player by some margin. Zusi is dangerous because he can hurt you in so many different ways.

He’s comfortable playing outside on the wing and is just as effective when he switches wings as he did against TFC in the second half last week. Zusi also links very well with SKC’s outside backs, especially Chance Meyers who overlaps Zusi on a regular basis and picked up a lot of assists doing so last season.

Coach's Take: Sporting KC

 

READ: A look back on the 2012 win at Sporting

 Zusi also likes to cut inside, opening up more space on the outside for the wing-backs to move into. For the most part, TFC did a good job stifling Zusi last week and they did so mainly by double teaming him when he had the ball.

As I said in my Week One preview, a lot of emphasis will be on the Fire wingers, Dilly Duka and Nyarko to track back and help out Gonzalo Segares and whoever the team starts on the right.

 Zusi’s crossing is arguably his most dangerous weapon and with targets such as Bieler and Sapong lurking in the box, the less crosses the Fire allow, the better.

Prediction:  The games in KC have been tight affairs recently, and I don’t see this one being any different. 1-1 Fire with a goal from Chris Rolfe.

Stephen Piggott is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com. Follow him on Twitter @irish_steve.

14 March 2:51 pm

Hoping this match from July 4, 2001 in Kansas City is a good omen for the weekend. Peter Vermes should remember the game well, he played all 90 minutes in defense.

Fast forward to 57 seconds in...

14 March 10:37 am

We're having a lot of fun with GIFs lately. Since its #RivalryWeek in MLS, we thought we'd do one on Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes being mad. 

Also, props to @ricecakeonfire for tweeting me his compilation of the many faces of Peter Vermes: