EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J (Wednesday, October 15, 2003) — The Chicago Fire got a 68th minute goal from forward Damani Ralph to earn their third Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title in six years on Wednesday night at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The Fire, who also won the Open Cup in 1998 and 2000, bring the championship back to Chicago for the eighth time in the 90-year history of the competition as the first MLS team to win the cup final on the road.
The match was played back and forth, with neither team creating many chances on a very windy night in the Meadowlands as both goalkeepers combined for just five saves. One of the differences in the game were the Chicago Fire forwards outplaying the forwards from the MetroStars. Frontrunners Ralph and Ante Razov combined for as many shots – seven – as the entire MetroStars starting 11, while drawing a combined nine fouls, as compared to the one drawn by Clint Mathis and Andrzej Juskowiak.
“I think from the start of this whole competition our team had a very good approach,” Chicago Fire head coach Dave Sarachan said. “To be able to come into their building in New York and having played them already four times and to come away with a very good result is huge for our team. As a team, organization and a coaching staff we are very proud and pleased knowing that we still have more on the horizon.”
The deciding goal came in the 68th minute with Ralph finding the back of the net on an assist from midfielder Evan Whitfield. The ball was played wide right to Whitfield, who gathered it in space and dribbled toward goal before slotting the ball to an unmarked Ralph. Just three days removed from an international friendly in England with the Jamaican national team, Ralph drilled a 10-yard shot between MetroStars goalkeeper Jonny Walker and defender Eddie Pope that went inside near post for his second goal of the 2003 U.S. Open Cup.
A relatively quiet first half ended with both teams scoreless after being unable to crack the opponents’ defense. Chicago earned the first scoring chance of the match as midfielder DaMarcus Beasley dribbled into the center of the field creating space on the left for Razov. Razov’s cross skimmed off the crossbar before going out over the far touch line for a throw in.
The next chance was created by MetroStars defender Edgar Bartolomeu, who often overlapped from his left back position in the first stanza. In the 15th minute, he dribbled into the top left corner of the box before drilling a shot high and over the cross bar.
The first and only shot on goal in the first half came off the foot of Mathis. As the MetroStars pressed forward, the Fire defense gave the ball away. He gathered the ball 20 yards from goal, but only got a toe on the ball which rolled into the arms of a diving Zach Thornton.
Two minutes later, a long free-kick from the MetroStars Chris Leitch sprung Juskowiak in the center of the penalty area. Before he could collect the bouncing ball, defender Kelly Gray ran him off forcing a weak shot that went well wide of the goal.
The first chance of the second half came in the 55th minute and was created down the left flank by Beasley, who crossed the ball into the area. The ball flew high of Ralph, but Razov was able to settle at the back post but facing away from goal. After being unable to turn, Razov dropped the ball for Whitfield who shot from seven yards out went high over the crossbar.
After the 68th minute tally, the Fire almost notched an insurance goal as Razov had a point blank shot saved by Walker.
Late in the game the MetroStars had three more dangerous chances. In 80th minute, midfielder Amado Guevara’s header was saved by a diving Thornton while four-minutes later John Wolyniec headed a Leitch cross into the hands of the former MetroStars goalkeeper. A final chance came in stoppage time, as Guevara drove a free kick from 25 yards out high over the crossbar.
Chicago and the MetroStars finish the 2003 U.S. Open Cup as the only two teams to win four matches. The Fire walk away with the $100,000 championship purse, while the MetroStars earn $50,000 as runners up.
- 2003 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final Match Report -
Match-up: MetroStars vs. Chicago Fire
Date: October 15, 2003
Competition: 2003 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Venue: Giants Stadium – East Rutherford, N.J.
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 55 degrees, breezy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
MetroStars 0 0 0
Chicago Fire 0 1 1
CHI - Damani Ralph (Evan Whitfield) 68th minute
MET (4-4-2) - 1-Jonny Walker; 3-Chris Leitch, 5-Steve Jolley, 23-Eddie Pope (capt.), 4-Edgar Bartolomeu; 16-Richie Williams (8-Mark Lisi 78), 2-Ricardo Clark, 24-Eddie Gaven, 20-Amado Guevara; 10-Andrzej Juskowiak (15-John Wolyniec 69), 13-Clint Mathis (7-Mike Magee 76)
Subs not used: 30-Paul Grafer, 6-Juan Forchetti, 19-Tim Regan, 17-Joey DiGiamarino, , ,
CHI (4-4-2) - 18-Zach Thornton; 6-Kelly Gray, 4-Carlos Bocanegra, 5-Jim Curtin, 20-Orlando Perez (16-Andy Williams 66’); 3-Evan Whitfield, 14-Chris Armas (capt.), 15-Jesse Marsch, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 8-Damani Ralph, 9-Ante Razov
Subs not used: 1-Curtis Spiteri, 24-Ryan Futagaki, 22-Jonathan Bolanos, 21-Justin Mapp, 12-Logan Pause, 11-Nate Jaqua
Stats Summary: MET CHI
Shots 8 10
Saves 2 3
Corner Kicks 2 6
Fouls 17 16
Offsides 3 5
CHI – Jesse Marsch (caution) 16th minute
MET – Edgar Bartolomeu (caution) 50th minute
MET – Clint Mathis (caution) 58th minute
CHI – Andy Williams (caution) 89th minute
Referee: Kevin Stott
Senior Assistant Referee: Nathan Clement
Junior Assistant Referee: Craig Lowry
Fourth Official: Arkadiusz Prus
Chevrolet Man of the Match: Damani Ralph