The Weekly

Fresh off KC win, Fire begin Open Cup campaign

The Chicago Fire begin its quest for a fifth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title when they take on the Colorado Rapids at Bradley University’s Shea Stadium this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. CT. The Fire’s initial foray into America’s longest standing team tournament begins with the difficult challenge of facing the reigning MLS Cup Champion Rapids in play-in match in Peoria, Ill. The match will be streamed live on Chicago-Fire.com.

The Fire break from MLS League play for the week following the Men in Red’s 3-2 victory over Sporting Kansas City at TOYOTA PARK. The Fire’s revamped strike-trio of Uruguayans Diego Chaves and Gaston Puerari and Guatemalan Marco Pappa all notched goals to elevate Carlos de los Cobos’ side over Sporting for its first win of the year. With four points after two games, the Fire sit in second place in the Eastern Conference behind Philadelphia Union.

In the interim, between its U.S. Open Cup date and next MLS fixture against Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field on April 9 at 3 p.m. CT (CSN), the Fire will stay fit by welcoming the NSC Minnesota Stars for an exhibition match at the TOYOTA PARK practice field on Saturday, April 2 at 10 a.m. CT.

Tickets for the U.S. Open Cup qualifying game between the Fire and Rapids will be $20 for reserved seating in the Shea Stadium grandstand and $15 for general admission seating on the grass berms. A limited number of $10 general admission tickets will be available to Bradley University students, faculty and staff at a maximum of two per person. Tickets are available at the Renaissance Coliseum box office, all TicketMaster outlets and online at www.BradleyBraves.com.

CHICAGO FIRE WEEKLY TRAINING SCHEDULE: March 28 – April 3

Chicago Fire players and coaches will be made available to media at TOYOTA PARK (7000 S. Harlem Ave. Bridgeview, IL 60455) following each training session this week. Media are able to begin conducting interviews after training, which runs approximately two hours. (All times central)

Monday, March 28: Training 10:00 a.m. – TOYOTA PARK Practice Field*^

Tuesday, March 29: Training 10:00 a.m. – TOYOTA PARK Practice Field*^

Depart for Peoria following training

Wednesday, March 30: Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup: Chicago Fire v. Colorado Rapids – Shea Stadium – 6:30 p.m. CT

Thursday, March 31: OFF

Friday, April 1: Training 10:00 a.m. – TOYOTA PARK Practice Field*^

Saturday, April 2: Exhibition: Chicago Fire v. NSC Minnesota Stars – TOYOTA PARK practice field – 10:00 a.m.

Meet the Team Event – Chi-Town Futbol (2255 S. Throop) 2-5 p.m. CT

Sunday, April 3: OFF

*Training is open to the media. Fire players and coaches will be made available immediately following training, which runs approximately two hours.

^Training times are subject to change. Please contact Brendan Hannan at 708.496.6725 for media requests.

U.S. OPEN CUP: CHICAGO FIRE v. Colorado Rapids

• The Fire are 26-8-3 in U.S. Open Cup dating back to 1998. Scoring 69 goals while only allowing opponents to 33.

• The Chicago Fire last met the Rapids in U.S. Open Cup play in the 2003 Quarterfinals at Cardinal Stadium in Naperville, Ill. The Fire erased John Spencer’s first half goal when DaMarcus Beasley tallied eight minutes later. Robin Fraser’s own goal helped the Men in Red to advance past the Rapids and into the semifinals.

• The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is the nation’s longest running annual team tournament, dating back to 1914.

• When going into halftime with the lead, the Fire are 11-1-1 in U.S. Open Cup matches.

• The Fire have hoisted the coveted Dewar Trophy four times – 1998, 2000, 2003 & 2006 – in just 13 years of play. The number is the highest among all MLS clubs, with the league beginning to participate in the tournament in 1996.

• The 2006 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title marked the ninth time a team from Chicago won the Open Cup and made the Fire one of five teams to capture the crown at least four times in the tournament’s nearly century-long history.

• Bradley University previously served as the host to a 2008 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup qualifying game between the Fire and Crew, drawing a sold-out, Shea Stadium record crowd of 3,829 fans. Chicago pulled out a 3-2 win in double overtime on a 116th-minute goal by Andy Herron to qualify for the tournament’s main draw. The Fire went on to advance to the quarterfinals, losing to eventual champion D.C. United.

FIRE HOST MEET THE TEAM EVENT AT CHI-TOWN FUTBOL

The annual Chicago Fire Soccer Club Meet the Team Event for Suite, Club, Full Season and Ten Game Plan Holders will be held at Chitown Fútbol (2255 South Throop St.) this Saturday, April 2 from 2-5 p.m. CT. The event includes appearances by the entire first team and technical staff food, raffle prizes, and more. The annual Meet the Team event offers Fire supporters a chance for up-close interaction and autographs with your favorite Chicago Fire players and coaches.

PAPPA’S NIFTY FOOTWORK NOMINATED FOR MLS GOAL OF THE WEEK

Marco Pappa’s improbable maneuvering through four Sporting KC defenders and class finish past Sporting ‘keeper Jimmy Nielsen has garnered the Fire attacker a MLS Goal of the Week nomination. Pappa’s first goal of the season gave the Fire a 3-1 lead over the visiting Kansas City side. The 23-year-old Guatemalan racked up his third consecutive Opening Day goal much to the delight of the Fire faithful.

To vote for the goal and check out the rest of the week’s finest in MLS click here or head to: http://www.mlssoccer.com/att-goal-week.

CONCACAF GOLD CUP DOUBLEHEADER AT SOLDIER FIELD

The Chicago Fire are offering a special Mexico Two-Pack ticket offer which gives supporters the opportunity to see the Men in Red on Opening Day at TOYOTA PARK and the Mexico national team in the CONCACAF Gold Cup at Soldier Field.

Mexico Two-Packs are available by calling 1-888-MLS-FIRE (657-3473), via Ticketmaster or by heading to the club’s official website at Chicago-Fire.com .

The special Mexico Two-Pack offers supporters a chance to witness the Fire’s third home regular season match at TOYOTA PARK against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. CT and a ticket to the CONCACAF Gold Cup Doubleheader featuring El Salvador vs. Cuba and Mexico vs. Costa Rica at Soldier Field on June 12 starting at 5 p.m. CT.

DAN KELLY, EVAN WHITFIELD AND OSCAR GUZMAN NAMED THE OFFICIAL FIRE BROADCAST TEAM FOR 2011
Dan Kelly and former Fire player Evan Whitfield will call the action from the booth for the Fire’s 24 matches on Comcast SportsNet (CSN) and My50 this season. The duo, in their first year together, will be joined by Oscar Guzman on the sideline.

For the full schedule click here: http://www.chicago-fire.com/schedule