FINAL: Fire 2 - 1 Kickers

Men in Red hold off Richmond, advance to USOC final

 


The Chicago Fire advanced to their sixth Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final, getting goals from midfielder Sebastián Grazzini and forward Dominic Oduro to defeat the USL Pro Richmond Kickers 2-1 at Toyota Park on Tuesday night.

Grazzini put the self-styled “Kings of the Cup” ahead in the 32nd minute, burying a penalty kick into the lower-right corner. Oduro doubled the advantage in the 61st, scoring a gorgeous goal to put Chicago up 2-0.

Richmond defender William Yomby gave the Kickers a fighting chance with his 68th-minute goal, but the third-division side couldn’t find an equalizer, bringing an end to both their deep tournament run and their season.

The game got off to a slow start, with neither team creating any chance of note until Grazzini’s penalty. The Fire came out particularly flat, taking about 15 minutes to really get into the game. Chicago didn’t look all that strong in the next 15 minutes, either, merely holding even with the Kickers.

But the Fire got on the board first when some nice combination play in the 32nd between midfielder Marco Pappa and Grazzini allowed the Argentine playmaker to slip forward Patrick Nyarko in on the left side of the box, where he was chopped down by Kickers defender Dave Hertel.

Referee Jason Anno pointed to the spot and Grazzini did the rest, sending Richmond ‘keeper Ronnie Pascale the wrong way as he slotted his spot kick inside the right post.

Chicago then gathered a bit more steam and Oduro made it 2-0 in the 61st minute. The speedy striker ran onto a Nyarko through ball on the left flank, cutting in on his right foot before curling a beautifully shaped strike into the right upper 90 from 20 yards out.

Richmond pressed for a goal after Oduro’s beauty, putting Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson under some serious pressure before Yomby’s 68th-minute tally. Midfielder Michael Callahan played a driven cross to the right post and the unmarked Cameroonian ran onto it, powering his header off the turf, off the bar and over the line.

The Kickers threw a ton of numbers forward after Yomby’s goal, but they couldn’t create any clear opportunities for an equalizer, sending Chicago to their first Open Cup final since 2006.

Chicago will face the winner of Tuesday’s Dallas-Seattle semifinal in for the Open Cup crown on Oct. 4. The Fire, who return to league play at San Jose on Sept. 10, will host the final if Dallas advance and play in Seattle if the Sounders win.