Frank Klopas wants to help the Chicago Fire become the winningest MLS team in US Open Cup history.
The Fire continued their journey towards an all-time record-tying fifth Open Cup trophy on Wednesday night, going on the road to beat Austin FC 2-0 at Q2 Stadium.
“If you’re in a tournament then you want to win,” Klopas said. “Every time we play we want to win. That’s the way we approach it. We’re always going to put our best team forward that is going to give us opportunities to win the game.”
Chicago will travel to face the Houston Dynamo in the Quarterfinals the week of June 6-7.
Despite losing the possession battle, the Fire were able to frustrate Austin FC and held a 12-9 advantage in shots, including an 8-2 lead in shots on goal.
Rafael Czichos opened the scoring with a header in the first half before Kacper Przybylko scored for the fifth time in all competitions off an assists from Xherdan Shaqiri in the second half.
“It was a great win,” Klopas said. “Any time you’re on the road, especially when you’re playing against a really good team in a great atmosphere, it’s always difficult. We had a really good gameplan. We were good with the ball and made them chase.”
Austin FC was on a bit of a high entering the Open Cup match after winning back-to-back MLS games for the first time this season to vault back up into a playoff spot.
“It’s disappointing to get knocked out,” Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff said. “This is a competition we wanted to progress in. Physically, we looked fatigued. When the team isn’t performing well, you’ve got to stay resolute.”
Both teams had their chances for the first 20 minutes of the game, but then Austin started getting sloppy with its passes, and Chicago started to have their way a bit more.
Kei Kamara took advantage of an Austin FC turnover with a shot from inside the penalty area in the 25th minute. Less than a minute later, Xherdan Shaqiri picked out Maren Haile-Selassie behind the back line for an open look, forcing Austin keeper Brad Stuver into a diving save.
The Fire took advantage of the ensuing corner as Rafael Czichos headed home a corner form Brian Gutierrez into the top corner to give Chicago the lead in the 27th minute.
“After 20 minutes, it looked leggy with a lot of sloppiness,” Wolff said. “It almost becomes contagious. It’s an elimination game, and dueling is important. It was concerning that we looked a little labored and physically slow.”
The Verde & Black started the second half strong, with headed chances on goal with headed caches for Gyasi Zardes and Aleksandar Radovanovic.
Shaqiri had his initial shot saved in the 77th minute, but he passed the rebound to a wide-open Kacper Przybylko in front of net for an easy tap-in goal to seal the win.
“We were very disciplined, organized and we had really good moments with the ball where we created lot of opportunities,” Klopas said. “We had some great individual performances, but from a collective standpoint, that was a the difference.”