Monday, June 27, 2011
Fire return to Open Cup play at Rochester
By Charlie Corr
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire take a short detour from their MLS slate when they take on the USL Pro's Rochester Rhinos on Tuesday in third-round action of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester, N.Y.
The Fire are providing a live stream of the match on their official site, Chicago-Fire.com, with the opening kick at 6:35 p.m. CT.
The four-time Open Cup champion Fire managed to qualify for the tournament for a 14th straight time, defeating MLS sides Colorado Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes in a pair of play-in matches.
This third-round match marks another short turnaround for the Fire, who played to a 1-1 draw against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, preceded by a scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake last Wednesday.
"The Open Cup is a tournament that we want to win," Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas said. "We talked about the goals we set in the beginning [of the season], but there are a lot of games and a lot of traveling. We have a very good group of players, and we're going to assess them all."
With this being a non-league match, the Fire certainly will take some caution. Fire defensive midfielder and captain Logan Pause (concussion) continues to stay on the shelf, though he is training at some capacity.
"We're assessing him every day," Klopas said of Pause. "You have to wait with stuff like that to see how he reacts the next day. I think if everything goes according to plan, my hope is he'll probably be available in L.A. [against Chivas USA on Saturday]. We'll see."
Fire forward Cristian Nazarit will be available for the first time since he was hit with a two-game suspension by the MLS Disciplinary Committee, forcing him to miss Chicago's matches against Real Salt Lake and New York. Midfielder Daniel Paladini will continue playing above the Fire's defensive line, but he will have to serve a one-game suspension on Saturday against Chivas USA for yellow card accumulation.
The Fire's front line had a different look this past match, with Dominic Oduro shifted up from the midfield alongside Orr Barouch. Gabriel Ferrari is starting to accumulate some second-half minutes. Diego Chaves, who had a solid start to the season, has taken a bit of a breather, and Klopas thinks that the wear and tear of jumping into the season has affected Chaves' play.
"The one thing we can't underestimate is that he missed a lot of the preseason," Klopas said of Chaves. "He came in and right away we went into games. I think from an aerobics standpoint he's not there. You can see that late in the games he gets tired. He's a quality player, and we just have to manage that."
The Fire face a Rochester side that has had its success in the Open Cup. Since the inception of Major League Soccer, Rochester remains the only team outside of MLS to win the Open Cup. The Rhinos (previously of the A-League) defeated Colorado, 2-0, to earn the crown in 1999.
That was the year that Rochester upset the Fire with a 1-0 victory in the third round, winning four of its five matches against MLS opponents. In that third-round match, Yari Allnutt -- who had brief stints with the Kansas City Wizards and New England Revolution -- tallied the game's lone goal in the 51st minute for the Raging Rhinos.
Rochester currently is atop of the USL Pro's National Division with a 7-4-3 record. The Rhinos have only allowed 11 goals in 14 games, sporting the top defense in its division. Aurora, Ill., native and defender Quavas Kirk has played in 10 matches, posting two assists in 591 minutes of action for Rochester.