Late goals by Jeff Larentowicz
rescued the Chicago Fire from a US Open Cup scare Wednesday night against the Atlanta Silverbacks, giving them a 3-1 victory in a quarterfinals matchup at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.
A hotly contested match from the outset – featuring the ejection of the Chicago’s Mike Magee
and Atlanta’s Jesus Gonzalez for a first-half dust-up – was tied at 1-1 after goals from Quincy Amarikwa
and Deon McCaulay early in the second half.
The victory puts the Fire, shooting for an all-time record-tying fifth USOC title, in the semifinals for the second straight season. The tournament run for former USMNT star Eric Wynalda’s NASL side, making their first quarterfinals appearance in the Open Cup, comes to an end after they knocked off Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids.
The Fire will face the winner of Wednesday’s matchup between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders in the semifinals.
The 1-1 deadlock was broken against the run of play when Chicago’s Harrison Shipp
picked off an Atlanta clearance in the area and flipped to newly signed forward Matt Fondy
, who was taken down in the box in the 80th minute.
Referee Edvin Jurisevic pointed to the spot and Larentowicz coolly converted past goalkeeper Derby Carrillo.
Chicago added an insurance goal five minutes later when Alex made a run up the middle of the park and fed to Grant Ward
for a shot. The blast rebounded straight to Alex who easily cleaned up.
Extra-curricular antics, following the fracas in Atlanta's fifth-round victory over the Rapids that resulted in red cards and suspension for this game of three players an assistant coach and Wynalda, continued to follow the Silverbacks on Wednesday. The dust-up between Magee and Gonzalez in the 30th minute resulted in both players being sent off. Magee appeared to kick out after a challenge, resulting in a head butt by Gonzalez.
Outside of the post-whistle scuffle, the Silverbacks proved to be the aggressor for much of the night with several golden opportunities to open the scoring.
In the fifth minute, Junior Sandoval was left all alone on the right wing. But Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson
came out on top of the one-v-one standoff, stoning the Silverbacks winger.
Johnson, making a return to his hometown, was called into duty once again in the 20th minute, lunging to parry a long shot from Junior Burgos from the left wing over the bar.
Chicago’s best opportunity for an early goal came in the 11th minute when Amarikwa cleverly maneuvered around a handful of Silverbacks defenders into the box, but Mike Randolf came up with a big clearance on the shot attempt.
Amarikwa’s goal came in the 50th minute when he cleaned up a rebound on a Larentowicz shot off a nicely placed Shipp cross. McCaulay, a Belize international, equalized four minutes later.
Chicago Fire 3 – 1 Atlanta Silverbacks
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Matthew Watson (Lovel Palmer 46’), Bakary Soumare, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Greg Cochrane; Grant Ward, Jeff Larentowicz ©, Logan Pause (Alex 80’), Harry Shipp; Mike Magee, Quincy Amarikwa (Matt Fondy 63’)
Substitutes not used: Kyle Reynish, Patrick Ianni, Gonzalo Segares, Chris Ritter
Atlanta Silverbacks: Derby Carrillo, Mike Randolph, Beto Navarro, Ramiro Canovas, Ferrety Sousa (Alex Harlley 69’), Jesus Gonzalez, Blair Gavin (Kellen Gulley 87’), Pablo Cruz (Mitch Garcia 88’), Junior Sandoval, Junior Burgos, Deon McCaulay
Substitutes not used: Eric Ati, Abdul Bangura, Ryan Roushandel, Janny Rivera
CHI – Quincy Amarikwa (unassisted) 50’
ATL – Deon McCaulay (Junior Sandoval) 54’
CHI – Jeff Larentowicz (penalty kick) 82’
CHI – Alex (unassisted) 85’
CHI – Mike Magee (ejection) 31’
ATL – Jesus Gonzalez (ejection) 31’
CHI – Matthew Watson (caution) 34’
ATL – Ferrety Sousa (caution) 43’
CHI – Bakary Soumare (caution) 87’
CHI – Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution) 90’
Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Assistants: Brian Dunn, Kevin Klinger
Fourth Official: Ted Unkel