The Fire entered Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup match one of the hottest teams in Major League Soccer, and left the match without Patrick Nyarko and a trip to Rio Tinto Stadium.
Despite out-shooting the road side seventeen to twelve, the Fire fell short in the category that counts, as D.C. found the back of the net in both the first half’s dusk and the dawn of the second to eliminate the Fire from the tournament. Dwayne De Rosario and Nick DeLeon scored the two goals, as Silva and Riley picked up the assists.
The Fire were looking to make it to their seventh U.S. Open Cup finals in a quest to add to their MLS record four championships in the tournament. The all-time record, five (by any team, not limited to MLS), is currently held by both the Bethlehem Steel and Maccabi Los Angeles. Instead, a D.C. team that has struggled mightily in the regular season and has very little chance at a post-season berth advanced to challenge Real Salt Lake for the title in Utah, in what may be seen as the last attempt to salvage anything from an otherwise dismal season. Joe Willis made six saves and recorded a shutout in the winning effort, while Johnson only made three while allowing the two goals.
Juan Luis Anangono impressed in his Fire debut after substituting for Rolfe in the fifty-seventh minute, and may start in the near future. Klopas used an offense-oriented strategy in making the substitutions while already down two goals, notably including bringing on Quincy Amarikwa for Gonzalo Segares. Unfortunately, Klopas was only able to make two voluntary substitutions late, having been forced to make one earlier in the match when Nyarko left the game with an apparent injury that Klopas would later refer to simply as a “head injury”.
Klopas also suggested that the D.C. team the Fire played tonight was no different than the one that the team had handily defeated just weeks ago.
While the Fire will not get an opportunity to add on to their legacy as “Kings of the Cup”, the lack of an extra tournament game may help keep players in rested form as the team aims to continue their surge into the post-season, and the club advanced significantly further in this edition of the Cup than in last year’s, when they fell to the Michigan Bucks of the Premier Development League in the club’s first match.
The Fire remain at home to play host to the third-seeded Montreal Impact at Toyota Park at 7:30 PM on Saturday. It is currently uncertain whether or not Nyarko will be available for the upcoming match that will be broadcast on My50 Chicago in English and on La Ley 107.9 FM in Spanish.