Juan Luis Anangono

Fire players praise clutch performance from Juan Luis Anangono in extra time win over Columbus

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Trailing 2-1 in the 77th minute to a short-handed Columbus Crew side in Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup match, things looked like they might go from bad to worse when Fire forward Mike Magee was withdrawn from the match with an ankle injury.

The only offensive substitute left on the bench, Magee’s replacement Juan Luis Anangono had little time to make an impression in the match as the Fire seemed set to crash out at home in the competition for the second straight year.

Just as hope seemed lost, right back Matt Watson strolled into the area on the right and picked out Anangono just above the penalty spot, with the second-year Fire striker finishing first time to pull things level at 2-2, effectively sending the game to overtime in the 83rd minute.

In extra time, Quincy Amarikwa grabbed the early game-winner in the 92nd minute and the Fire seemed well on their way to pulling out a victory when Crew substitute Michael Parkhurst saw red for coming in from behind on the Fire striker in the 97th minute.

But Anangono would grab his first brace with the club, tallying another goal in the 108th minute off a cross from fellow substitute Alex to calm the nerves in a 4-2 extra time win.

Post-game Fire captain Jeff Larentowicz pointed to Anangono’s strong play off the bench as a spark that led the team to victory.

“To be a substitute is a difficult thing,” he told Chicago-Fire.com post-game “You’re not in the game and you’re expected to come in and make something happen. At the break Frank simply said to the guys that were going to come on, ‘make a difference.’ Those guys did just that. His goals were really well taken and we’re all proud of him.”

“He’s showing that he’s a huge asset when he’s coming off the bench and giving defenders difficulty,” game-winning scorer Quincy Amarikwa added. “It definitely helped us having overtime to play to him. He had fresh legs, he capitalized on that. Hopefully it carries into the rest of the season.”

Anangono deflected the praise, however. 

“I don’t think there’s one hero,” he told reporters through a translator. “There’s 11 on the field, there’s also people on the bench and if there’s going to be one hero I think it’s the team as a whole.

“I worked hard but the team worked hard to get all three goals. I personally feel happy that I scored the goals I did today.”

The win sets up a July 9 quarterfinal date away to the NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks, who dispatched the Colorado Rapids 2-1 in a wild match that saw seven ejections on Tuesday night.

Though they’re facing a lower-league team in the next round, Larentowicz said his side couldn’t take them lightly.

“I watched the highlights of the Atlanta team,” Larentowicz said. “I don’t think they’re going to be stepping back. They’ve beaten two MLS teams to get to this point. Last night was on the road and they’ll be at home, so I’m sure they’ll be ready to go.”