Know the Rules: Magee says Fire set out to have halftime lead in shortened Open Cup match

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- As storms began to move towards Bridgeview ahead of Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup fourth round match vs. Pittsburgh, there was an inkling that a full 90-minute affair might not be in the cards.

According to the U.S. Open Cup handbook, matches that have a team leading and are terminated due to inclement weather once the first half has been completed, can be awarded to the team leading at the time.

Mike Magee, who scored what would be the team’s game winning goal in the 40th minute, said Fire assistant coach Clint Mathis made the competition rule abundantly clear prior to kickoff.

“We discussed before the game that we had to be up at the half,” he told Thursday. “It was definitely a point made before we walked onto the field. You know going in you may not get a full game in so it was important to  make the most of our chances.”

According to the Open Cup Handbook, games that are tied at the time of match termination must be replayed in their entirety.

With that in mind, Magee’s goal proved crucial in the weather-shortened match as Riverhounds defender Andrew Marshall pulled the score back to 2-1 just a minute later.

The teams went into the locker room for halftime and just as they returned to start the second frame, lightning struck again as referee Alex Chilowicz cleared the field a second time.

Both sides agreed with U.S. Soccer Match Commissioner Nate Boyden and the referees to take one more crack at getting a complete game in. The inclement weather returned in the 49th minute however, bringing the match to an end at approximately 11:40pm CT – over four hours after the game was to have started.

“[It was] obviously a kind of a weird, waiting around type night,” Fire head coach Frank Yallop said post-game.”It’s never easy to get your guys to play well [in those situations] but I thought we played pretty well in the first half.

“These games are never easy but I thought we went about the game in the right manner.”

Tottenham Hotspur loanee Grant Ward was active on the right throughout his 49 minute Open Cup debut, bagging the game’s first goal off a feed from Quincy Amarikwa in the 22nd minute.

The 19-year-old Englishman said he’d never experienced a weather delay like the one on Wednesday night and spoke to the challenges of the stop and start nature of the match.

“It’s never easy is it? It messes up your routine,” he said. “You have to eat a certain time before the game but then obviously it’s longer. You have to eat snacks and that and you never quite know if it’s going to restart.

“It felt great to get my first goal for the Fire and overall, we did what was needed to advance to the next round.”

The Chicago Fire will host the Columbus Crew at Toyota Park in Round 5 of the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup next Wednesday, June 25 at 7:30pm. Tickets available here