OPEN CUP: Yallop says Fire can't take short-handed Crew squad lightly in Round 5

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire will hope to book a place in the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals Wednesday night as the Columbus Crew visit Toyota Park for the second straight year in the competition (LIVE 7:30pm CT on

The Fire advanced to this stage with a weather-shortened 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in last Wednesday’s fourth round match. The match brings in a familiar opponent, as the Fire will face the Crew for a fifth time in the competition -- more than any other side. They've had success too, going a perfect 4-0-0 vs. Columbus, though three of those matches have needed extra time. 

While there is a successful history and more familiarity in facing an MLS opponent, Fire head coach Frank Yallop says nothing has changed in his team’s prep for the match.

“We know more about these players but our preparation and views on the game are exactly the way they were last week,” he said. “We’re at home in a cup competition we want to do well in so nothing changes from our side of things.

“I expect us to have a good result obviously against a quality opponent but we want to try and move on in this cup.”

Health and suspension wise, neither team comes into the match completely unscathed but the Fire seem to be in better shape. After surgery to remove bone spurs in their ankles, midfielder Patrick Nyarko and Gonzalo Segares weren’t expected to be back for this match, though Segares has already began to train again. 

Of note, Nyarko provided the Fire's game-winning goal in the 78th minute of last year's Open Cup encounter, a 2-1 win at Toyota Park on June 13 (HIGHLIGHTS).

Though he played 45 minutes in the Reserves 2-2 draw at Wilmington Saturday night, right back Lovel Palmer also seems likely out of this match, with Yallop targeting his return for next Wednesday vs. Toronto FC.

The Crew’s list of absences is much longer. Of course the side is without Costa Rican defenders Waylon Francis and Giancarlo Gonzalez who continue to be away for World Cup duty.

The Columbus Dispatch's Adamy Jardy reported Monday that star attacking midfielder Federico Higuain was seen riding a bike during Crew training Monday as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury. Additionally they’ll also be without former Fire midfielder Daniel Paladini and forward Adam Bedell both of whom were sent off in the team’s 3-2 extra time victory over Indy Eleven last week.

Interestingly enough, newly acquired midfielder Alvaro Rey is also ineligible for selection due to an MLS rule that prevents players from playing both the Canadian Championship and U.S. Open Cup in the same season.

The Spaniard appeared in three of four matches in the competition for Toronto FC before being traded to the Crew in exchange for former Fire forward Dominic Oduro earlier this month.

Jardy reported Tuesday that along with Higuain, questionable players Wil Trapp, Agustin Viana and Matt Lampson will not travel, leaving them further limited in their selection.

Whatever the issues in Columbus, Yallop won’t take them lightly.

“Every team in MLS on its day can play,” he said. “We’re no different, Columbus are no different – we have to be on our game against them.”

Whoever wins in Wednesday's fifth round matchup will head out on the road for the July 8 or 9 quarterfinal, visiting the winner of the Colorado Rapids/Atlanta Silverbacks match  set to be played Tuesday night in Commerce City, Colo. 

Fire vs. Crew Open Cup History

Date Round Result Fire Goal Scorers
10/30/1998 Final 2-1 (asdet) Podbrozny 45', Klopas 99'
7/20/2004 4th Round 2-1 (asdet) Ralph 66', 105'
6/10/2008 USOCQ 3-2 (aet) King 10', Herron 65', 116'
6/13/2013 4th Round 2-1 Magee 29', Nyarko 78'