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Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Fire advance to Open Cup quarterfinals

By Charlie Corr

The Chicago Fire endured a slow start and defeated the USL Pro's Rochester Rhinos, 1-0, on Tuesday in a third-round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester, N.Y.

Fire forward Diego Chaves netted the game's lone goal as Chicago advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

"When you go into a game like this, you've got to be ready," Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson said. "We started a little slow and had a tough time getting used to the field conditions. But we picked things up as the game went on, especially once we got that goal."

The Fire will meet fellow MLS side the New York Red Bulls on July 12 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. The Red Bulls topped FC New York, 2-1, on Tuesday to move on to the quarters.

Chaves' game-winning goal came in the 37th minute, just outside the top of the box, to give Chicago a 1-0 lead. Chaves' shot took two bounces before crossing the goal line inside the near right post.

Fire defender Pari Pantazopoulos, who was playing for regular starter Gonzalo Segares (out because of a red card in an Open Cup play-in match), led the attack with a cross from the left side. Rhinos goalkeeper Neal Kitson stretched to bat the cross. Then Rochester's Alfonso Motagalvan attempted to clear the ball further away, but he whiffed on the opportunity, paving the way for Chaves to take a strike.

Up to that point, the Fire were practically nonexistent on the offensive end.

The Rhinos dictated the bulk of play through the first 30 to 35 minutes of the match. One of the Rhinos' best scoring opportunities came in the 16th minute when they tried to take advantage of a 2-on-1 chance against Fire defender Bratislav Ristic. Ristic could not commit to either Tyler Rosenlund or Kendall Jagdeosignh. He was put in that situation after a poor play from Chicago defender Dasan Robinson. Jagdeosignh took a shot, but it just missed the frame.

The Fire touted a dramatically different starting lineup than Sunday's 1-1 draw against the Red Bulls -- only Johnson and midfielder Daniel Paladini returned to their starting roles from over the weekend. Chicago interim head coach Frank Klopas went with a completely different defensive line with Ristic, Josip Mikulic, Robinson and Pantazopoulos. Midfielder Marco Pappa, defender Cory Gibbs and defensive midfielder Logan Pause were not available for the match.

The Fire's makeshift lineup managed to improve its play in the second half Tuesday. Chicago held more possession than the opening half and created some further scoring chances.

Dominic Oduro particularly had some good looks in the final 10 minutes. In the 82nd, Oduro broke forward on a counter but was stuffed by Kitson in the box. In the 87th, Oduro had a one-timer that hit the right-side netting after Paladini provided the free kick service from the left side. Then, in second-half stoppage time, Oduro had a key opportunity to ice the game with a rebound, but he shot the ball over the crossbar.

Fire PDL falls: The Chicago Fire PDL lost to MLS's Sporting Kansas City, 3-0, on Tuesday at Livestrong Sporting Park. Kansas City advances to face the Richmond Kickers on July 12.