Fire go for Challenge Cup title Saturday night vs. Charleston

Players return as Fire shoot for 2012 Challenge Cup title Saturday

Due to severe thunderstorms in the greater Charleston area throughout the day Saturday, the Chicago Fire and Charleston Battery mutually decided to cancel the final match.

The Chicago Fire close out the 2012 Carolina Challenge Cup against hosts Charleston Battery Saturday night at Blackbaud Stadium. Catch a live stream of the match via Chicago-Fire.com beginning at 4pm CT or follow @ChiFireMatch on Twitter.

-       The Fire enter Saturday’s tournament closer 1-1-0 after Federico Puppo opened his account with an 80thminute strike that earned the team a 1-0 victory Wednesday over Columbus.
 
-       Charleston comes into Saturday’s match 0-1-1 after falling 3-1 at midweek to D.C. United. The Black and Red went up 1-0 through Maicon Santos after 13 minutes but saw the hosts equalize through Jose Cuevas’ tallied his second of the tournament in the 29th minute. The deadlock lasted only two minutes when United trialist Ryan Richter put the Black and Red back on top. The result looked set for D.C. when Battery defender Mark Wiltse was sent off for a late challenge on Danny Cruz in the 76th minute but striker Hamdi Salihi tallied his second goal in as many matches to give his side a 3-1 victory
 
-       Despite losing to D.C. United in the tournament opener a week ago, the Fire still have a chance to take the tournament title with the first and second tie-breakers after points earned being goal difference and goals scored. After two games played, United have six points (+3 GD, 4 GS), the Fire have three (0 GD, 1 GS, with Columbus (-1 GD, 2 GS) and Charleston (-2 GD, 3 GS) sitting on one point each. 
Carolina Challenge Cup
Team Pts. GD GS
D.C. 6 +3 4
FIRE 3 0 1
CLB 1 -1 2
CHS 1 -2 3

-       SCENARIO TO WIN:The Fire need Columbus to beat D.C. United in the early game. If that doesn’t happen, the nightcap will simply be for pride. If it does, the team will know exactly what score they have to win by to take the title. In short the Fire need to win and make up a four goal difference between the two matches, so a 2-0 Crew win and a 2-0 Fire win would be enough, though any combination that sees the team make up the four goals will do.

 
-       Five of the six Fire players away on international duty (Marco Pappa, Sean Johnson, Dominic Oduro, Patrick Nyarko and Victor Pineda) re-joined the team in Charleston as of Friday morning. Only striker Orr Barouch will be unavailable for selection after flying back from Israel following the U-21 side’s 4-0 victory over Ukraine on Wednesday.
 
-       After receiving Wednesday off to attend to a personal matter, midfielder Pavel Pardo returned to camp Thursday and will be available for selection Saturday night.
 
-       Frank Klopas said on his Thursday conference call that 2012 first round SuperDraft selection Austin Berry will be kept out of Saturday’s game after suffering a leg injury a week ago vs. DC United. Midfielder Sebastian Grazzini and defender Cory Gibbs will be game time decisions Saturday night.
 
-       The Battery feature goalkeeper Alec Kann who trialed with the Fire through the team’s first two phases of preseason in Ave Maria, Fla and Ventura, Calif. Kann played 90 minutes in the Battery’s opening match of the tournament, a 2-2 draw vs. Columbus last Saturday.
 
-        Goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi and defender Amadou Sanyang are currently the only two trialists in Fire training camp. Defender Juan David Duque joined Fire training camp on Thursday. The 21-year-old Colombian is a league-signed guest player and is currently not eligible to participate in official competitive matches.  
 
-       The Fire enter Saturday night’s match with a 4-3-1 preseason record.
 
-       FIRE RESULTS: Chicago Fire 1, Columbus Crew 0 (February 29); D.C. United 1, Chicago Fire 0 (February 25); San Jose Earthquakes 2, Chicago Fire 0 (February 18); Portland Timbers 2, Chicago Fire 0 (February 15); Chicago Fire 1, Chivas USA 0 (February 11); Chicago Fire 3, Real Espana 1 (February 4); Chicago Fire 3, Florida Gulf Coast University 0 (February 1); Chicago Fire 0, D.C. United 0 (January 29).
 
-       FIRE PRESEASON GOAL SCORERS: Dominic Oduro 3, Orr Barouch 2, Marco Pappa 1, Daniel Paladini 1, Federico Puppo 1
 
-       The Battery enter Saturday night’s game with a 0-1-1 preseason record.
 
-       BATTERY PRESEASON RESULTS: D.C. United 3, Charleston Battery 1 (February 29); Charleston Battery 2, Columbus Crew 2 (February 25)
 
-       BATTERY PRESEASON GOAL SCORERS: Jose Cuevas 2, Dane Kelly 1
 
-       The forecast for Saturday’s kickoff in Charleston is 62 degrees. There is a chance of a delayed start as there is a 65% chance of thunderstorms beginning at 1pm ET and raising to 90% by 7:15pm ET.
 
-       THE LAST TIME THESE TEAMS MET… They played to a 0-0 draw in the 2011 Carolina Challenge Cup closer on March 12… Previously the Fire fell 3-0 on penalties after 120 minutes of scoreless soccer during the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on June 29, 2010 at Toyota Park…
 
Tonight’s forecast might remind longtime Fire fans of the first meeting between the two clubs in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal back on August 25, 2004… A two-and-a-half hour weather delay with intermittent tornado warnings played out before the Fire ran away with a 1-0 victory behind Dipsy Selolwane’s 107th minute goal at Cardinal Stadium in Naperville, Ill.