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Fire and Fusion Set for 2000 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final at Soldier Field on Oct. 21


CHICAGO (Friday, October 6, 2000) - After beginning with an initial field of 154 teams and completing five months of competition, two teams have prevailed - the Chicago Fire and the Miami Fusion - and are set to battle in the final of the 2000 Lamar Hunt Open Cup on Saturday, October 21 at Solider Field, in Chicago. The match, presented by Budweiser, will kick off at 7 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on Fox Sports World and Fox Sports World Espanol. Tickets for the match can be purchased by calling 888/MLS-FIRE (888/657-3473).

The U.S. Open Cup match will be played on what FIFA has designated as the annual FIFA World Fair Play Day across the globe (October 21-22). This year's Fair Play Day is the fourth since FIFA introduced the concept in 1997 which encourages fans, players, coaches and media to remember "the best way to play is to play fair".

The race for the 2000 Open Cup scoring championship title is still alive and could be determined on Oct. 11, with the tournament's three leading-scorers in the final. Fire forward Josh Wolff and the Fusion's Diego Serna are leading the way with 13 points apiece while close behind is Fusion forward Welton with 12 points.

After a roaring finish to the regular season and just narrowly missing out on making the Major League Soccer playoffs, the Fusion look to keep their momentum churning when they travel to Chicago for their first-ever Open Cup finals appearance. The Fusion are unbeaten on the road (2-0-1) in Open Cup history and in this year's tournament have outscored their opponents 15-9 overall.

The Chicago Fire will have the opportunity to become the first MLS team in Open Cup history to win two U.S. Open Cup championships and depending on their advancement in the MLS playoffs, the Fire might have the chance to do the "double" again - win both the U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup in the same season. Since the inception of the MLS in 1996, two of the three U.S. Open Cup champions have done the "double" - the 1998 Chicago Fire and 1996 D.C. United teams.

Throughout this year's tournament the two-referee system was used in conjunction with FIFA, which is conducting the experiment worldwide; however, the 2000 Open Cup final will return to the traditional one-referee system with Tim Weyland working the center. Scott Weyland and Jorge Reyes have been named as the referee assistants and Kevin Stott will be the fourth official.

The winning team of the 2000 U.S. Open Cup will receive $100,000 in prize money and have their team name engraved on the legendary Dewar Cup Trophy, which has been retired to its permanent home at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y.

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