David Accam of the Chicgao Fire scored a pair of first half goals to help the home team beat the Columbus Crew, 2-1. Photo: Chicago Fire
It’s a story that seems to be told nearly every year in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
When the Chicago Fire meets the Columbus Crew, put your money on The Men in Red. The Fire entered unbeaten in four matches against the Crew in Open Cup play (five if you count a 2008 qualifying match) and Tuesday night’s match at Toyota Park was no different.
Behind two first half goals from forward David Accam, Chicago dispatched of Columbus 2-1.
It didn’t take long for Accam to get on the board. The attacker, who had two goals and one assist in his previous three matches, was the benefactor of a quick counter by the Fire seven minutes in. Accam collected the ball outside the 18-yard box and cut back to his right foot before rifling a shot by Columbus goalkeeper Brad Stuver for the early 1-0 advantage. Accam nearly doubled his tally just three minutes later. Once again it was a counterattack by the Fire who found the speedy forward, but Accam’s strike this time went wide.
Crew SC had the team’s lone shot on goal in the first half after 15 minutes of play.
Midfielder Hector Jimenez used the space given to him to fire a shot that took a couple of deflections, ultimately hitting Columbus forward Ola Kamara last. The redirect ultimately rolled slowly to Chicago goalkeeper Matt Lampson.
Despite dominating in possession, the Crew struggled to create any real chances. The Fire punished Columbus just before the half hour mark, once again through Accam.
Columbus defender Waylon Francis gave right back Rodrigo Ramos far too much space out wide in the 29th minute. The Fire defender picked up his head and served a ball to the back post that found an open Accam for the redirect and a 2-0 lead.
Following halftime, Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter attempted to change the match by bringing in midfielder Wil Trapp for Tony Tchani and winger Ethan Finlay for Kamara.
As Columbus continued to control the ball, Chicago looked to counter again and nearly found the net twice early in the second half. The first saw defender Chad Barson block a Kenny Igbonananike shot that may have crept into the far post. The second was on an Igbonananike cross that appeared destined to find Accam if not for the effort of defender Tyson Wahl inside the 18-yard box.
In the 56th, Columbus thought it scored through 19-year-old Cristian Martinez. After a Justin Meram shot deflected off a Fire defender, Martinez beat Lampson but was judged to be offside.
The Crew were handed a lifeline by referee Nima Saghafi in the 78th minute. Chicago defender Johan Kappelhof was judged to have his hand in an unnatural position when the ball struck it on a Finlay shot from the top of the penalty box.
Finlay, who scored from the penalty spot in the last round of the Open Cup, stepped up and converted to cut the deficit in half.
Despite pressure by Columbus, including bringing Stuver forward on a corner kick, the Fire held on for the remaining 11 minutes for the win. With the victory, Chicago will now face the winner of Orlando City SC and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, who play Wednesday night.
With the win, the Fire improve to 38-13-4 (3-1 PKs) all-time in Open Cup play, the most wins of any club in the Modern Era (1995-present). They move on to the Quarterfinals for the 13th time, which is the third most in the 103-year history of the tournament (Kutis SC – 17, FC Dallas – 14).