CHICAGO (Wednesday, August 2, 2004) ? The defending champion Chicago Fire are two wins away from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final for the fifth time in the team?s seven year history as they topped the Richmond Kickers 1-0 on Wednesday night in Richmond, Va.
Forward Dipsy Selowane scored the game?s only goal in the 56th minute on a cross from Orlando Perez. The Fire will now host the Charleston Battery (A-League) on Aug. 25 at Benedetti-Wehrle (formerly Cardinal) Stadium in Naperville, Ill. The Battery upset the Rochester Raging Rhinos (A-League) 1-0 at Frontier Field in Rochester, N.Y. on a seventh minute goal by Gabe Valencia.
Although they are the defending A-League Champion, Charleston is the most unlikely team to appear in this final foursome. The Battery?s win tonight gave them three wins in the 2004 Open Cup, matching their total of three wins in 21 A-League matches as they sit in last place in the Eastern Conference.
In the other semifinal bracket, the Minnesota Thunder (A-League) took the San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) to overtime, before falling 5-4 in penalty kicks. Melvin Tarley scored for the Thunder in the first five minutes, but San Jose would eventually go ahead on goals by Brian Ching and Landon Donovan. Minnesota forced overtime with a Dustin Branan goal in the 77th minute, but were denied as the match went to spot kicks.
The Earthquakes will now travel to face the Kansas City Wizards, who blew out MLS rival Dallas Burn 4-0 on Wednesday. Chris Klein, Davy Arnaud, Justin Detter and Alex Zotinca all tallied for the Wizards. The Wizards will host their semifinal at the Blue Valley Athletic Complex in Overland, Kan., on Aug. 24 at 7:30 p.m. CT. Both San Jose and Kansas City are seeking their first U.S. Open Cup title.
With the win tonight, the Chicago Fire now have 17 wins in U.S. Open Cup play, more than any other team since 1996 when MLS teams first participated. Second to the Fire since 1999 are the Rochester Raging Rhinos and Columbus Crew with 14 wins each. The Rhinos and Crew have been eligible to compete in the Open Cup for each of the last nine years, while the Fire were not founded until 1998. In addition to their 2003 crown, the Fire (MLS) also had their name engraved on the Dewar Trophy in 1998 and 2000.
The Battery are the first A-League team in the semifinals since 1999, when Charleston and their opponent Wednesday night, the Rhinos, both qualified for the semifinals. That year was also the last time and the only time since MLS joined the competition that an A-League team won the Open Cup when Rochester took the crown.
At stake in the tournament is $180,000 in prize money broken down as follows: $100,000 to the champion, $50,000 to the runner up and $10,000 to the team which advances deepest in the tournament from each of the Division II, Division III and amateur levels.
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the U.S. Soccer Federation?s National Championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. It is the oldest annual team tournament in U.S. sports history and among the oldest soccer tournaments of its type in the world. In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor long-time soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt.
U.S. Open Cup Schedule/Results
# Date Teams Venue; City
33 Aug. 4 San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) 2, Minnesota Thunder (A) 2 James Griffin Stadium; St. Paul, Minn.
Earthquakes advance 5-4 on penalty kicks
34 Aug. 4 Dallas Burn (MLS) 0, Kansas City Wizards (MLS) 4 Blue Valley Complex; Overland Park., Kan.
35 Aug. 4 Chicago Fire (MLS) 1, Richmond Kickers (A) 0 Univ. of Richmond Stadium; Richmond, Va.
36 Aug. 4 Charleston Battery (A) 1, Rochester Raging Rhinos (A) 0 Frontier Field; Rochester, N.Y.
# Date Teams Venue; City Time
37 Aug. 24 San Jose Earthquakes at Kansas City Wizards Blue Valley Complex; Overland Park., Kan. 7:30 p.m. CT
Aug. 25 Charleston Battery at Chicago Fire Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium; Naperville, Ill. 7:30 p.m. CT