The Fire continue to find a flicker of hope when it comes to US Open Cup runs.
Although not able to find a spot in its league playoffs since 2012 and sits last in the table in its division, the MLS’ Fire defeated the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3-0 in the Cup
Quarterfinals to advance to its fourth consecutive Semifinals berth and 12th overall, setting the all-time US Open Cup record.
The four-time Cup champions will meet its MLS Eastern Conference counterparts the New England Revolution in the Semifinals on Aug. 9.
The Strikers were looking to make history as the first NASL team ever to make the Semifinals.
“In the first 15 minutes we tried to close the space, but we conceded two early goals and that put us in a terrible situation,” said coach and GM Caio Zanardi in a report by the team. “But it was a great moment for us to be in the quarterfinal beating D.C. United and Orlando City. Playing Chicago was special for us. This was a great moment for us to play here in Chicago.”
Reigning TheCup.us Player of the Round David Accam again led the way, earning and converting a penalty in the 4th minute for his fourth goal of the tournament and dishing out what would prove to be the game-winner.
Accam helped double the lead when he set up Michael de Leeuw in the 35th minute and Khaly Thiam all but sealed the game for the Fire when his goal in the 51st minute made it 3-0.
Gale Agbossoumonde did not make life easier for the Strikers, the last non-MLS team left in the Open Cup field, when he got himself sent off in the 70th minute. Agbossoumonde had previously played every minute of the Strikers NASL and Open Cup campaigns.
Accam was brought down on inside the 18-yard box by Fort Lauderdale goalkeeper Diego Restrepo and the Ghanaian forward converted his attempt from the penalty spot. A bad start got worse for the Strikers minutes later as Nana Attakora was forced off after a collision.
It was Accam again in the 35th minute. After winning a ball at midfield, Accam made his way through the Striker’s midfield and around Restrepo in the penalty area and his attempt was cleaned up by de Leeuw. It was de Leeuw’s first goal in the tournament and his second in four matches since joining the Fire.
Fort Lauderdale came out more aggressively in the second half but conceded a third goal shortly after the restart. Accam played a short corner to Brandon Vincent as he found Nick LaBrocca. LaBrocca’s headed attempt was stopped by Restrepo, but the rebound fell to the feet of
Thiam who was able make it a 3-0 tilt in the 51st.
With the win, the Fire advance to the Semifinals for the fourth year in a row. They become the first club in the 103-year history of the tournament to reach four straight Open Cup Semis twice (2003-06, 2013-16). Only six other clubs have ever reached the Semis four straight years: Ukrainian Nationals (1959-66), Seattle Sounders (2007-12), Stix, Baer & Fuller (1932-37), Bethlehem Steel (1915-1919, LA Galaxy (2000-03), Philadelphia Nationals (1949-52).
FULL MATCH REPLAY: Chicago Fire vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers