Chicago Fire: Rochester Rhinos

Fire advance to Open Cup quarterfinals

June, 28, 2011
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.

Fire return to Open Cup play at Rochester

June, 27, 2011
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,, 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.