UPDATE: Chicago Fire Premier punched their ticket to the Third Round with a 2-0 victory over the Madison 56ers. The Fire received goals from Andrew Ribeiro in the 66th minute and Thierry Zahui just two minutes later to seal the victory. Chicago moves on to play Sporting Kansas City on Tuesday, June 28 at LiveStrong Park at 8:30 p.m. EST. We will have a full recap of the match later tonight courtesy of WisconsinSoccerCentral.com [+]
REPORT FROM TUESDAY NIGHT:
It was a strange night of soccer Tuesday at Breese Stevens Field. And in the end, not very much soccer.
The Madison 56ers and the Chicago Fire Premier played just more than 17 minutes of their Second Round US Open Cup match before the game was halted by lightning with the Fire ahead 1-0.
A little more than 2 hours later, officials postponed the match, which will be replayed in its entirety at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Breese Stevens. The 56ers announced that admission will be free.
“It’s a little weird. (Stuff) happens,” 56ers coach Jim Launder said.
“It’s good and bad. It’s a replay, so we just erase the goal and start over. It’s not good because we lost a huge fan night … It’s not good because we’ll play in a dead stadium tomorrow, because nobody will be here at 4 p.m. And it’s not good because I think we’re going to be missing two players, maybe three.”
The Fire certainly wanted the game to resume, having taken the early lead on Chris Estridge’s goal in the ninth minute.
Indiana midfielder Harrison Petts, who pounded a shot from 23 yards out off the corner of the crossbar and left post in the fourth minute, chipped a ball for Estridge over the 56ers’ backline and the Wake Forest midfielder calmly finished against Madison goalkeeper Kyle Dillman (Madison La Follette).
Estridge raced over to celebrate with about 25 members of the Fire’s Section 8 supporters group who made the trip north. They lived uo their reputation, pounding on drum, singing songs and waving massive flags.
Four minutes later, Fire forward Paulo Vaz also got in behind the 56ers’ backline, but Dillman made a sliding save on the Lynn University striker.
“Two times when we didn’t get pressure on the ball and we didn’t step back and we just let guys run in behind us,” said Launder, who added that he would re-evaluate his lineup overnight. “I wasn’t impressed with our defensive stance. All of our backs did the same thing, they all just stopped.”
Referee Margaret Domka suspended play 17 minutes, 19 seconds into the match as storms rolled into the area and lightning was spotted. Heavy rains followed, and intermittent showers and lightning persisted. All the while, the Section 8 group kept drumming and singing.
“It was a little surreal,” Fire PDL coach Mark Spooner said. “We were trying to get updates and (the officials) weren’t that forthcoming with them, so it was frustrating. But it is what is; nobody can do anything about the weather.
“The thing that I don’t like, obviously, is now you start 0-0 again for 90 minutes. I would think that there would be a better method than that in a competition like this.”
If the match had reached 45 minutes, it would have been declared a result.
However, for the game to be resumed, 20 minutes needed to pass without lightning in the area, and there still were regular flashes in the skies as the teams left the stadium. Also, the lights at Breese Stevens need to be turned off by 11 p.m. due to a local ordinance.
“They would want to get that half game in and win the game – I would, too,” Launder said. “It wasn’t going to happen.”
So for the Fire, it was yet another night spent in a hotel. They had three road matches last week and have logged more than 1,500 miles during trips to Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio and Wisconsin.
“It’s just one thing after another,” said Spooner, whose team requested Wednesday’s replay be moved to 4 p.m. from the scheduled 7 p.m. start time to help them get back to Chicago earlier with a PDL match Friday.
“You know, though, it’s good for their development. This whole program is designed around them becoming pros, and this is part of it. We have to react now to it and see where we can go.”
Speaking late Tuesday night, Spooner said when they got to the hotel, there weren’t enough rooms.
“What a fun night,” he deadpanned.