Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Chicago Fire [Print without images]

Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Fire roll into Open Cup semifinals

By Charlie Corr

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire brought the bulk of their best personnel and the New York Red Bulls did not.

That was the clear-cut difference in Tuesday's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match, and the Fire took advantage of the situation. Orr Barouch led the way with two second-half goals, and Dominic Oduro and Yamith Cuesta also added tallies as the Fire prevailed, 4-0, at Toyota Park.

"Games like this sometimes are never easy," Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas said. "I think it was important more than anything was the attitude we came out with."

The Fire will host the USL Pro's Richmond Kickers for an Aug. 30 semifinal match. Richmond defeated host Sporting Kansas City, 2-0, late Tuesday night. The Kickers are the last remaining non-MLS team involved in the tournament.

The Fire's Open Cup road has looked promising. Chicago now has a USL Pro team on the docket and had an easy path getting past a Red Bulls organization that rested the majority of its key players Tuesday.

"Regardless of whoever they brought out there, I thought we played well," Oduro said. "That's what we're looking for is confidence going forward into the semifinals. I think we did well out there. We controlled the whole game."

Oduro got the Fire going with a seventh-minute goal for a 1-0 lead. Marco Pappa slotted the ball in and Cristian Nazarit got a quick touch to get the ball to Oduro. Oduro cut to his right a little bit to take the shot. Red Bulls goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul did get a piece of the ball, but Oduro's shot clipped the bottom of the crossbar and went into the back of the net.

Cuesta gave the Fire a 2-0 lead in the 48th minute with a header goal off of a Daniel Paladini cross from the left side. The setup came after Paladini took a short corner kick to Fire defender Gonzalo Segares. Paladini wrapped around Segares to an onside position to receive the ball, then crossed it to the far right post where an unmarked Cuesta timed his leap perfectly to head the ball into the net past Coundoul.

Chicago broke the match wide open when second-half sub Barouch tallied a goal in the 51st minute for a 3-0 cushion. Segares set up Barouch, whose shot took a deflection off of a Red Bulls defender and Coundoul could not adjust as the ball deflected off of the left post and went in.

Barouch pushed the Fire lead to 4-0 with his second goal in the 69th minute. The Fire's Diego Chaves played a through ball to Barouch, who then eluded his defender and shot the ball past Coundoul for a four-goal advantage.

The Red Bulls dressed only 14 players, with a bulk of the big guns such as Thierry Henry, Tim Ream and Joel Lindpere not traveling with the squad.

The Red Bulls did show some occasional stretches of possession in the first half -- mostly in the midfield. When it came to creating an impact in the offensive third, New York was quiet. In the defensive third, the Red Bulls made errant passes and allowed the Fire to have plenty of space to work with.

The only scoring chance that the Red Bulls developed in the first half came from Mehdi Ballouchy in the 43rd minute. John Rooney set Ballouchy up, and Fire defender Cuesta was not able to track Ballouchy closely. Ballouchy had only Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson in the way of the goal, but his rolling left-footed shot missed wide right.

New York's Corey Hertzog took a couple of shots in the second half, but his strikes were over the crossbar and wide right.