Fire vs. Eagles Winthrop

Klopas praises Charlotte Eagles move to grass field for third round U.S. Open Cup match


BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire learned who they would begin their quest for a fifth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup against Tuesday night as the USL-Pro Charlotte Eagles defeated the PDL’s Seattle Sounders U-23s 3-0 at Queens University in Charlotte, N.C.

With the win, the Fire will travel to the southeast to face the third division side next Wednesday in Rock Hill S.C.

Fire head coach Frank Klopas made no bones about the fact that the Fire scouted Tuesday’s encounter in North Carolina.

“We watched their game yesterday,” he said following Wednesday’s training session. “The Open Cup, you look around the world and you always see you can’t take any opponent lightly.”

Klopas admitted his immediate focus was on Saturday’s visit to Real Salt Lake but signaled the club’s commitment to doing well in the 100th edition of the tournament.

“It’s a prestigious tournament, one that everyone wants to do well in. It gives opportunities to smaller clubs like this to be in and I think that’s fantastic.

While the Fire will be heavy favorites, the task won’t be easy as the Eagles come into the match unbeaten so far in 2013 with a 3-0-3 record in league play.

Notable Eagles players include former Columbus Crew defender Shaun Francis and 2010 Chicago Fire SuperDraft selection Drew Yates who scored the first goal in the team’s 3-0 victory Tuesday night.

The team also comes off a strong Open Cup run in 2012 where they upset FC Dallas 2-0 and second division San Antonio Scorpions 2-1 before falling 2-1 to Chivas USA in the quarterfinals.

“We’re entering to try to win the cup like we always have and we need to take the opponent serious but we’ll put everything we have to make sure we do well in the tournament.”

Despite playing last night’s game at their normal turf home, Queens University, the Eagles applied to host the fourth round match at Winthrop University’s Eagle Field, approximately 25 miles south of Charlotte in Rock Hill, S.C.

It’s a facility the Eagles have used for Open Cup matches before because of its grass surface.

Coming off the Fire’s 3-2 upset defeat to the Michigan Bucks in an indoor facility in Pontiac, Mich., last year, Klopas praised the Eagles choice to host on the grass field further south.

“It’s fantastic,” he said.  “You saw us last year where we played. I felt it was totally embarrassing that you would put a professional game in a place like that.

“It’s great though, we have great fields and I think the fans want to see a high-quality game from two teams. It’s great to see and hopefully the weather is nice and the fans can enjoy a great game.”