BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Mike Magee recorded a brace in his first start since undergoing hip surgery last year to lead the Chicago Fire past the Charlotte Independence 3-1 Tuesday at Toyota Park in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16.
Chicago will host a quarterfinal against Orlando City SC after the Floridian squad defeated the Columbus Crew 2-0 in earlier action. The match date and time will be announced later this week.
Charlotte got on the board first with a fifth-minute strike from Tomasz Zahorski. Zahorski narrowly beat the offside trap and found himself free on goal, eventually slotting his chance toward the far post past the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
The Fire nearly drew level in the 19th minute after Greg Cochrane found Joevin Jones open in the box. Mike Magee, starting his first game of the year in any competition for the Fire, sprung Cochrane with a pass down the sideline. Cochrane carried the ball forward and zipped a cross to Jones for a one-timed effort that forced Charlotte goalkeeper Richard Gilstrap to make a diving stop.
Chicago continued the pressure three minutes later. Lovel Palmer sent a long-throw to the feet of Kennedy Igboananike and the Designated Player slipped a pass to Magee. Magee chipped a shot toward the far post, only to watch Gilstrap make a leaping save.
Magee equalized in the 38th minute after a beautiful sequence up the right flank. Palmer navigated a give-and-go with Igboananike and then sent a weighted pass into space that Magee tapped past Gilstrap for his first goal in any competition since Aug. 10, 2014.
Palmer gave the Fire control of the match early in the second half with a 50th-minute golazo. The Jamaican defender collected a deflected ball outside of the box, took a touch past his mark and then unleashed a bending left-footed shot that gave Chicago a 2-1 lead.
Johnson did his best to preserve the lead with a key save just past the hour mark. Ryan Finley one-timed a shot from close range after a cross found its way through Chicago’s back line, but Johnson sprawled to block the shot and keep the Fire’s 2-1 advantage.
Magee linked his brace in the 82nd minute. Patrick Nyarko split a pair of defenders on the dribble and then slid a pass to Magee in the area. The 2013 Volkswagen MLS Most Valuable Player fired to the far post for his second goal of the game and a 3-1 Chicago lead. The assist had extra meaning for Nyarko, who made his first appearance since Oct. 18, 2014 when he tore his anterior-cruciate ligament against D.C. United. Nyarko, who made his 201st all-time appearance for the Fire Tuesday night, also had an assist in that match before leaving with the injury.
Magee’s goal was his seventh all-time in the U.S. Open Cup and his sixth with the Fire.
The Men in Red return to action on Friday, July 3 against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. Kickoff is 8 p.m. CT on Univision Deportes Network.
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Chicago Fire 3:1 Charlotte Independence
June 30, 2015 – Toyota Park
CHA – Tomasz Zahorski (Alex Martinez) 5
CHI – Mike Magee (Lovel Palmer, Kennedy Igboananike) 38
CHI – Lovel Palmer (unassisted) 50
CHI – Mike Magee (Patrick Nyarko) 82
CHA – Patrick Slogic (caution) 70
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson, Lovel Palmer (Eric Gehrig 81), Matt Polster, Adailton, Greg Cochrane, Harry Shipp (Patrick Nyarko 77), Matt Watson, Chris Ritter, Joevin Jones, ©Mike Magee, Kennedy Igboananike (Jason Johnson 71).
Shots: 15; Shots On Goal: 7; Saves: 4; Fouls: 6; Corner Kicks: 12; Offsides: 1.
Charlotte Independence: Richard Gilstrap, Ben Newnam, Bilal Duckett, Patrick Slogic, Raphael Cox, Andrew Ribeiro, ©Jorge Herrera, Alex Martinez (Caleb Calvert 80), Paolo DelPiccolo (Enzo Martinez 66), Carlos Alvarez, Tomasz Zahorski (Ryan Finley 46).
Shots: 8; Shots On Goal: 4; Saves: 4; Fouls: 8; Corner Kicks: 6; Offsides: 5.