Yallop, Match Commissioner talk weather shortened 2-1 Open Cup win over Pittsburgh

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - - It was a start and stop night for the Chicago Fire in Wednesday night’s 2-1 U.S. Open Cup victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

Originally scheduled to begin at 7:30pm, thunderstorms around Bridgeview delayed the game’s kickoff until just about the time a full-time whistle would have been blown at 9:23pm CT.

Both teams never found a ton of connections on the wet Toyota Park surface but the Chicago Fire did do enough to score two goals. Tottenham Hotspur loanee Grant Ward opened his Fire account in the 22nd minute before Mike Magee finished in the 40th to give the Fire a 2-0 lead.

Pittsburgh struck back a minute later when Andrew Marshall finished off a deflected cross, taking the Fire into the break with an important 2-1 lead.

The teams took their normal halftime respite and just as they walked back on the field the thunder and lightning returned with referee Alex Chilowicz immediately ushering the players back off the pitch.

In regard to match cancellation,  U.S. Soccer’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Handbook states, “If a match is terminated after the end of the first half of a match, but before the end of the second half with one of the teams winning, and the termination is not due to the conduct of one of the teams, the match is considered complete, and the team winning at the time of the termination shall be the winner."

With inclement weather in the forecast, questions were also raised why the game wasn’t rescheduled to Thursday but officials followed the stipulation in U.S. Soccer’s Open Cup handbook which states, “Every attempt shall be made to play the match irrespective of how long the delay. Postponements shall be considered only in extreme situations, such as those that are beyond the control of the participating teams or could endanger the safety of the participants and spectators."

After representatives from both teams consulted with referees and U.S. Soccer Match Commissioner Nate Boyden about how to proceed, the decision was made to try and re-start the game with a target time of 11:35pm CT.

“As a big storm is coming through, the referee said to me they’re going to try and continue the game but if there is any endangerment of the players they’re going to call it,” Fire head coach Frank Yallop told reporters post-game.

The teams once again came back out on the field for 15 minute warm-ups, kicked off and even saw Magee hit the cross bar just minutes into the second half before more lightning and thunder returned, causing referee Chilowicz to officially call the game in the 49th minute.

“We decided to terminate the match in the 49th minute due to weather,” said Boyden. “We did everything we could to try to play the game, despite multiple delays, but we thought it was best to terminate the game due to player and fan safety.”

The decision results in the Chicago Fire being awarded a 2-1 victory and setting up a fifth round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup date with the Columbus Crew back at Toyota Park next Wednesday, June 25 at 7:30pm CT. 

Tickets for that match are available by clicking here.