Open Cup appearance on line for Fire

May, 23, 2011
5/23/11
6:03
PM CT
The level of concern for the Chicago Fire grows with every week as the team continually winds up without a victory each time out.

Chicago is in the midst of an eight-game winless streak in league play, and the Fire has had ample opportunities to turn things around.

They'll have a couple more chances when they face the San Jose Earthquakes on Tuesday and Saturday. San Jose is toward the bottom of the Western Conference with a 3-4-3 record, while Chicago is second-to-last in the East with a 1-4-5 mark.

Chicago and San Jose take a break from league play on Tuesday, but they have a lot to play for as they square off in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play-in match at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Fire have always been a part of the Open Cup, winning four times from 1998 to 2006.

"This is a big week for us," Fire goalkeeper Jon Conway said following Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union. "We have a goal of advancing to the Open Cup and doing well in that. We need to get everything right on the field and build some momentum heading into our next match Saturday. Every match is critical toward wronging the mistakes we have made."

The Fire have not produced a win in two months, dating back to their 3-2 victory over Sporting Kansas City on March 26. They are currently in a 0-4-4 skid in league play.

Chicago is coming off a road loss to Philadelphia in a match that included reasons for optimism in a strong 15-minute start, followed by the Union dictating a bulk of the play in key stretches the rest of the way.

"We started out fresh and we were good moving the ball around," Conway said. "We started so well, maybe we were lulled to sleep and got into a funk. [The Union] didn't really change their tactics, but we lost our grip."

Following the Open Cup play-in match, the Fire and Quakes return to MLS action when Chicago plays host on Saturday at Toyota Park.

Pappa called in to Guatemalan side: Fire midfielder Marco Pappa will be called in to Guatemala's club for the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup. He will be available for Tuesday's Open Cup match against San Jose, as well as the Fire-Quakes rematch on Saturday in league play. But with Pappa set to participate in the Gold Cup, it means he will minimally miss Chicago's June 9 match at Sporting K.C. and the Fire's June 12 match at the Columbus Crew. Guatemala is in Group B, up against Grenada, Honduras and Jamaica.

Bradley names U.S.'s Gold Cup roster: U.S. head coach and former Fire head coach Bob Bradley named his roster Monday for the Gold Cup. Long-time U.S. captain and former Fire defender Carlos Bocanegra is on the squad, along with Downers Grove native and Leeds United defender Eric Lichaj. The U.S. is in Group C and faces Canada on June 7 in Detroit, Panama on June 11 in Tampa, Fla., and Guadeloupe on June 14 in Kansas City, Kan.

The Gold Cup final takes place on June 25 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

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