Harry Shipp
USA Today Sports Images

Chicago Fire Advance To Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinals With 3-1 Victory Over Atlanta Silverbacks

ATLANTA (Wednesday, July 9, 2014) –  The Chicago Fire defeated the Atlanta Silverbacks 3-1 Wednesday evening at Silverbacks Park in the quarterfinal round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. After both sides were reduced to ten men, second half goals from Quincy Amarikwa, Jeff Larentowicz and Alex led the Fire to victory. The Fire will now face the winner of the Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers match taking place tonight in Seattle, Wash.  
Both sides were reduced to ten men in the 31st minute when Mike Magee and the Silverbacks’ Jesus Gonzalez were ejected for a scuffle near the right touchline.
After the two sides traded chances, Amarikwa finally broke through in the 50th minute. Harry Shipp whipped in a free kick from the right side that bounced around and fell to Amarikwa, who pounced and slotted it into goal to give the Fire the lead.
The Silverbacks equalized just four minutes later when Junior Sandoval played a nice through ball to Deon McCaulay, who tapped it in from 10 yards out.
Newly-acquired forward Matt Fondy made his competitive debut for the Men in Red when he entered the match in the 63rd minute. The move would prove advantageous in the 81st minute when he dribbled into the Silverbacks’ 18-yard-box and was dragged down, earning a penalty kick. Larentowicz stepped up and calmly buried his ensuing penalty past Carrillo for the 2-1 lead.
Alex added an insurance goal in the 85th minute when he cleaned up a blocked shot from Grant Ward as the match ended 3-1.
Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop
On the Fire’s overall performance…
“If you think about the quick turnaround we’ve had… I mean, we had to use a lot of the same players. I thought it was a great performance. They’re a good side, and they play well at home, especially on the surface — Wasn’t easy. But I was pleased for both Alex and Matt coming on and getting the penalty kick to win the game for us. So, hard-fought battle, but it’s about winning the game and getting through to the next round, so it’s important.”
On the quick turnaround…
“If we could play [New England] next week, we’d be all right, but we have a three-day turnaround. It’ll be tough, but we just got to take each game as it comes. I hate to use a cliché there, but you know, we have to. We’ve got a big game this weekend. This is a big result for us. We’re in to the Semifinal of the Open Cup, which is a massive achievement. We obviously want to go right through and win it. But I’m very pleased with the spirit and the fight. We came out a little flat, but I think you’ve got to credit the opponent. I thought they came out right from the game, getting after us. Once it settled down, I felt pretty comfortable at times. And then we score, and they score. So, it’s nice to get the two late goals to seal it.”
On the physical state of players…
“[They were] tired, to be honest. Logan was pretty spent. Harry had to go through the game, he played a lot of minutes, was getting shattered. But they don’t mind when you win. You know, when you get through the game, they’re going to get their regen going, they’re going to get right back and just get ready, and they won’t do anything until Saturday’s game – and it’s Saturday night, so they’ll get more rest. So, hopefully, it’s not too hot and we can get a good result. We’re soldiering on, we’re trying our best in the things we’ve done. The spirit’s good, and I’m pleased with that, and I’m pleased for the guys to have some joy in the season. We haven’t won many games, but we’ve been right there in a lot of games, and it’s nice to get over the hump in this one.”
On Sean Johnson’s performance…
“Sean played great. He kept us in the game — Made a great save first half, and a great save second half on the breakaway. Sean is very good; he kept us in it. He’s played well this season for us, and tonight was no different. It was a normal performance for him.”
Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson
On playing in his hometown…
“It was great to be back home in front of family and friends, especially to get a win and advance in the Open Cup. So, fantastic to be home tonight.
You know, it’s been crazy. I know some of the players their team, so congratulating them on a game well-played, and just ran into the shower real quick, and now I’m going to go say hi to everybody and see everybody. It’s been a long time.”
On the Atlanta Silverbacks’ performance…
“They gave us a great game for 90 minutes, so hats off to them. They put us in the back foot in the first half, and we had to dig ourselves out of a hole, had to regroup at halftime and relight a fire underneath us to come out and win this game. It wasn’t easy at all. Hats off to them again for making the game enjoyable.”
On the challenge of quick turnarounds…
“I think that’s part of it — being professional. Start taking care of yourself, the regeneration, we’re going to tomorrow turn around, make sure we do regen, get ourselves prepared mentally and physically, come back on Saturday and put in another shift.”
On similarities between Atlanta Silverbacks and New England Revolution…
“Very similar to New England. I think we couldn’t have played a better game this week to prepare for an MLS match. They’re very skilled, very good on the ball, they move the ball very well — just like the Atlanta team. It’s on turf — It’s not going to be easy, but that’s what we’re doing. We’re professional players. We signed up for this, so it will be a fantastic opportunity to go out and win another game on Saturday.”
On having an advantage playing at home…
“No, I don’t really come back home a lot. It’s different for me. It’s an away field. It’s not a home advantage. The only thing is having family and friends behind you. They really support you and put you in the game.”
My parents travel a decent bit to see me play. They watch every game on TV when they don’t travel. But to have all my family and friends here is special.”
On how many family and friends were in attendance for the match…
“Probably maybe 100-120 people.”
On missed chances and getting into the game…
“Over the course of my career I’ve seen plenty of chances, plenty of opportunities in situations in games. Can’t really get phased by that. It’s part of it sometimes. You just have to be mentally prepared for it — from the start, from the whistle until the end of the game. So just doing my job, so we can get out there and do what we need to get done.”
Fire midfielder Jeff Larentowicz
Thoughts on the match
“We knew it was going to be tough. Sunday was a difficult game for everybody, and to travel, to play in the heat again on turf, it’s a difficult game. And for the Atlanta team, they’re playing for a trophy against us, and they always want to win. So, in the end, it’s a win, it’s another opportunity to go forward in the Cup and to get that much closer to the trophy.”
On the conditions…
“If it’s hot out here for three straight days, it cooks, you know. The thing, it’s plastic, so it absorbs all that heat. At the beginning of the game it’s tough, but it cooled off. But it’s turf. In the end, the ball is going to bounce. It’s difficult to control it.”
-       With the win, the Fire move to 36-11-4 all-time in U.S. Open Cup play.
-       The Fire advance to the semifinals for the third time in four years (2011, 2013, 2014).
-       The Fire have reached an MLS record 10 U.S. Open Cup semifinals.
-       Forward Matt Fondy made his Fire debut when he entered the match in the 63rd minute. Fondy drew the penalty kick in the 81st minute that Jeff Larentowicz converted for the game-winning goal.
-       Logan Pause made his club-leading 28th Open Cup appearance. Pause ties CJ Brown and Zach Thornton with the most Open Cup starts with 23.
Chicago Fire 3 – 1 Atlanta Silverbacks
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Matthew Watson (Lovel Palmer 46’), Bakary Soumare, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Greg Cochrane; Grant Ward, Jeff Larentowicz ©, Logan Pause (Alex 80’), Harry Shipp; Mike Magee, Quincy Amarikwa (Matt Fondy 63’)
Substitutes not used: Kyle Reynish, Patrick Ianni, Gonzalo Segares, Chris Ritter
Atlanta Silverbacks: Derby Carrillo, Mike Randolph, Beto Navarro, Ramiro Canovas, Ferrety Sousa (Alex Harlley 69’), Jesus Gonzalez, Blair Gavin (Kellen Gulley 87’), Pablo Cruz (Mitch Garcia 88’), Junior Sandoval, Junior Burgos, Deon McCaulay
Substitutes not used: Eric Ati, Abdul Bangura, Ryan Roushandel, Janny Rivera
Scoring Summary
CHI – Quincy Amarikwa (unassisted) 50’
ATL – Deon McCaulay (Junior Sandoval) 54’
CHI – Jeff Larentowicz (penalty kick) 82’
CHI – Alex (unassisted) 85’
Misconduct Summary
CHI – Mike Magee (ejection) 31’
ATL – Jesus Gonzalez (ejection) 31’
CHI – Matthew Watson (caution) 34’
ATL – Ferrety Sousa (caution) 43’
CHI – Bakary Soumare (caution) 87’
CHI – Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution) 90’
Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Assistants:  Brian Dunn, Kevin Klinger
Fourth Official: Ted Unkel
Attendance: 5,327