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Let Down: Sounders 6, Fire 0, US Open Cup semifinal recap

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Thin Chicago attacking corps shown up by depth and power of Seattle attack as Sounders hand CF97 the worst defeat in franchise history

Former Fire man Chad Barrett celebrates his opener in front of Seattle supporters howling for more. They'd get it.
Former Fire man Chad Barrett celebrates his opener in front of Seattle supporters howling for more. They'd get it.
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Transport - motorways and tramlines / Starting and then stopping, taking off and landing / The emptiest of feelings

You could've called it at the coin flip for home field. On the road, on turf, against a considerably deeper and wealthier squad from Seattle, Chicago was simply flying in the face of too many long-established tendencies to expect more than failure. Oh, sure, there were reasons to believe that maybe, just maybe the Men in Red had a puncher's chance - they'll overlook us! They'll rest their big-money stars! It's a narrow field!

What was entirely overlooked was the simple fact that this particular Seattle team is in the habit of winning games, and this particular Fire collection in the habit of fumbling them away. It took only five minutes to be reminded of those tendencies, though - Kenny Cooper's centering pass at first looked too close to goal, but Sean Johnson couldn't come for it, and Lovel Palmer's attention was diverted toward the endline, allowing Chad Barrett to ghost behind him for the easiest little 3-yard roof shot y'ever did see.

It was just a little flicker of concentration, but that's all it ever is. Five minutes in, the hosts had the densely-packed crowd on their feet and roaring for more. 1-0, Seattle.

Disappointed people clinging onto bottles / But when it comes it's so ... so ... disappointing

So the game settled into a cagey rhythm - the Fire, prompted by the intelligent two-way play of new recruit Razvan Cocis and the increasingly-comfortable Matt Watson, were able to keep the ball for stretches. Seattle looked to break quickly to catch Chicago upfield, with Cooper's power and dribbling causing problems at every turn.

Then ... What's that? The doorbell? Let's see who it is, eh? Why it's an old friend of the 2014 Fire - Mr. Set-Piece Breakdown! Hello there, old chap; so ... lovely to see you again. No no, have a seat. It's no bother. Saw your handiwork tonight, as a matter of fact. Now, don't bother to deny it - no one marked Andy Rose on a run from deep off a corner, and it was 2-nil quick as that! You know that was you. Stop smirking. In fact, get the f**k out of this house, you f**king a**hole.

2-0, Seattle. The Fire maintained a bare margin of attacking presence for the rest of the half, seeming to wobble about, their hopes of hanging around and snatching a goal laid to ruin. There was the occasional moment, like a flicker of light from under the door of a far-off room - notably a lovely free-kick sequence between Harrison Shipp, Cocis and Jeff Larentowicz that ended with Big Red blasting a screamer off Stephan Frei's chest - but no breakthrough.

Let down and hanging around / Crushed like a bug in the ground / Let down and hanging around

Coming out from halftime, it was clear that the next goal would decide whether this was to be a contest or a parade lap. The hope-snuffer came from a pinpoint cross from former Fire winger Marco Pappa, whom Chicago somehow could not afford to sign this spring, while Seattle - the team of Dempsey, Martins, Alonso, Pineda, Cooper, Marshall et al - found the cap space. Pappa curled one onto the head of Rose, who glanced it home, and the rout was well and truly on: 3-0.

Shell smashed, juices flowing / Wings dead, legs are going / Don't get sentimental - it always ends up drivel

The last 30 minutes passed like a fever dream. Fire manager Frank Yallop waved the white flag, subbing in Logan Pause and Chris Ritter - two purely defensive midfielders - for the more all-round pair of Cocis and Watson. Seattle threw back its collective head and laughed a good, long collective laugh, then answered by dropping Barrett for Obafemi Martins. There were some goals. They were all by the guys in black shirts and highlighter shorts.

One day I am gonna grow wings / A chemical reaction / Hysterical and useless / Hysterical and ... let down and hanging around / Crushed like a bug in the ground / Let down and hanging around

The Fire will not win their fifth US Open Cup title in 2014. Tonight's final margin is the worst in franchise history.

The Men in Red (4-13-5) return to action Saturday in Montreal, where their previous architect is tearing down walls and putting out fires. The Fire are currently fifth in a pack of five teams slashing and tearing at each other in a wild fight for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, the very definition of hysterical and useless.