BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – It took 78 minutes, but the Chicago Fire finally took advantage of the opportunity provided them by Wednesday night's postponement of their Lamar Hunt US Open Cup fourth round clash with the Columbus Crew, as Patrick Nyarko's late strike propelled them into the quarterfinals with a 2-1 win under their belt.
After match was postponed until Thursday afternoon due to inclement weather in the Chicago area, Crew head coach Robert Warzycha was forced to alter his lineup with a view towards their game against Montreal on Saturday, but the Fire initially had trouble taking advantage.
The visitors took an early lead when Ben Speas' 22nd minute free kick cross from the left side found Konrad Warzycha, who placed a header from about nine yards past Sean Johnson to give Columbus an early lead.
After failing to create many early chances, Chicago strung together their best sequence of the half to equalize when Alex found Gonzalo Segares on the left side of the box, who played a cross to an open Mike Magee for an easy tap-in.
The Fire almost took the lead in the 43rd minute when Nyarko played a long ball to Magee, who tipped the bouncing ball just over goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum and inches wide of the post.
But a short-handed Columbus team didn't lay down.
Dominic Oduro could have given the Crew an edge in the 62nd minute when he charged into the box past defender Bakary Soumare, but his low shot was saved by Johnson.
The Fire finally pulled ahead in the 78th minute, when Chris Rolfe's cross found Nyarko at the back post, and his diving header nestled into the back of the net.
Chicago will move on to face Orlando City, who shocked Sporting KC on Wednesday night, in the quarterfinals on June 26. In the meantime, they'll host Colorado on June 19 in their next league game before heading to Columbus for a rematch in MLS play next Saturday.
After losing in their first game of the US Open Cup last year, the Crew were once again bounced early from the tournament.