Luck was not a lady for the Chicago Fire in all things U.S. Open Cup last night. Well perhaps it was if the lady in question was passive aggressively figuring out a way to rain on our parade. See, the Fire did not lose last night. The Chicago Fire PDL team didn't lose either. However, what happens next for both teams is indeed unfortunate. Follow me after the break for some more information.
Chicago Fire must travel to Rochester next Tuesday in U.S. Open Cup play
Last night's Second Round U.S. Open Cup game was to decide which team would play the Chicago Fire next Tuesday, June 28th. If the Harrisburg City Islanders won, the game would be at Toyota Park. If the Rochester Rhinos won, the game would be at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester. The game was 0-0 in the 90th minute when Rhino forward Kendall Jagdeosingh was taken down in the penalty box by Harrisburg goalie Phil Tuttle. Rochester was awarded a penalty kick and Tony Donatelli coolly converted the opportunity to give Rochester a 1-0 lead they would hold to finish the game. The Fire must now travel to Rochester for a 7:30 PM kick-off next Tuesday.
Anyone who wants to attack the Fire on losing the bidding rights to Rochester is a little misguided in my opinion. For those still unfamiliar with the process, the United States Soccer Federation accepts bids to host these games. The criteria primarily boils down to the quality of the venue, the quality of the game time, and the quality of the monetary bid to host the game. For example, if the Fire bid to play their game at a high school stadium in the far suburbs at 4:30 PM and offered USSF $0 to host the game, they would almost certainly lose the right to host. If the Fire offered USSF $1 million and wanted to play the game on a freighter off Greenland at 12:00 AM, they would likely still lose the bid because the venue and the timing would be terrible. Any criticism of the team getting outbid by Rochester would normally be fair but you have to look at a couple of things.
First, Rochester has a stadium that is soccer specific, was finished in 2006, and has a capacity of 13,768 people. Sahlen's Stadium is no Toyota Park but it's not a minor league baseball stadium, a high school soccer field, or an abandoned car lot either. Second, Rochester takes the U.S. Open Cup very seriously. As much as the Chicago Fire are ‘Kings of the Cup', the Rochester Rhinos are like the minor league kings of the cup. They made the USOC final in 1996, became the only non-MLS team to win the USOC in the MLS era in 1999, and have made it as deep as semi-finals as recently as 2009. The USOC is kind of a big deal to them. Third, Rochester lost their bid to host the second round game. That's right, last night's game was played in Harrisburg's Skyline Sports Complex with a seating capacity of 4,000 while Rochester's more luxurious stadium lay vacant. Official figures and discussions of bids are tight-lipped but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Rochester likely put a lot of resources behind hosting this 3rd Round game at the expense of hosting yesterday's 2nd Round game.
The Fire must now travel to Rochester after Sunday's home game against the New York Red Bulls before flying to Los Angeles to prepare for July 2nd's game against Chivas USA. The situation is less than desirable but it has much more to do with the actions of the opponent than the Fire front office being asleep at the front wheel.
Chicago Fire PDL team has game postponed
About three dozen Chicago Fire fans showed up in Madison, Wisconsin last night to cheer on the Chicago Fire PDL team in their 2nd Round USOC match against the Madison 56ers. Chris Estridge continued his tearing apart of any and all opposition in his path when he scored in the 9th minute to put the Fire PDL up 1-0. Things were looking super up as the Section 8 crowd added to the atmosphere with their Chicago songs. All of those good vibrations were halted in the 18th minute of play when the referees spotted lightning. A delay was put into effect for two hours until the game was postponed around 9:30 PM. Play will resume today at 4:00 PM CST and the ChiFirePremier Twitter account will keep you posted.
The postponement means that the 1-0 lead is erased and the game has to be replayed from minute zero. It also means that most, if not all, Section 8 fans will not be in attendance rooting the PDL team on. On Tuesday night, no Fire lost anything but none of it felt like a win, that's for sure.