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Fire to play team they've never lost to in Open Cup

The Chicago Fire will play a home game against the Columbus Crew on June 28 for their Round of 16 matchup in the U.S. Open Cup. This is fantastic news seeing as the Fire have never been defeated by Columbus in the tournament.

The Fire are set to clash with the Crew at Toyota Park in the U.S. Open Cup.
The Fire are set to clash with the Crew at Toyota Park in the U.S. Open Cup.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

When U.S. Soccer announced the Open Cup regional pairings, many Fire fans were understandably hoping for a home matchup with the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers.

On paper, a chance to play one of only two NASL teams left in the competition at home seems like a gift. But the Fire may have had a better option and that option became reality during Thursday's draw. The Chicago Fire will play the Columbus Crew at Toyota Park on June 28.

Why is this a blessing you ask? The Fire are 5-0-0 all time against Columbus in the Open Cup, including four wins in Illinois. And if that wasn't enough, Columbus will be dealing with some schedule congestion heading into that match. The Crew have a game against the Red Bulls on Saturday and then need to hit the road against Sporting Kansas City the following Sunday.

As a team coming off an MLS Cup Final appearance, the Crew cannot abandon the season at this early junction. Nor should they. But Chicago has the "luxury" (not really, but you understand, you watch this team) of being in the midst of a rebuilding season. They already know the playoffs are a far cry from reality and any meaningful run toward the MLS Cup is beyond a pipe dream.

The Open Cup is once again the Fire's chance to shine. They will have a full week to get ready for the Columbus match and then, though it is a Friday game, they get to host a team that needs to fly all the way from San Jose. Chicago is in a much better spot.

If people just watched the Open Cup games, considering the Fire the favorites in this matchup would be insane. Columbus absolutely routed their NASL foe, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, 4-0, while the Fire struggled at home to get what some may consider a lucky win against Indy Eleven.

But Columbus has also struggled overall this season, holding a nearly identical record to Chicago aside from one more win which came in one more game played. The Crew no longer has Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain will be out with injury. Even more reason to believe the Fire are capable of another semifinal run at the very least.

Should the Fire once again topple Columbus, they will get to host the winner of the Orlando City FC vs Ft. Lauderdale Strikers match. The Fire has already handled Orlando City in the Open Cup before and as stated previously, Ft. Lauderdale is running on whatever is powering a Cinderella run this deep in the tournament.

The stage is set yet again for the Fire. Maybe Open Cup No. 5 can salvage the season after all. Just for reference, here is the Open Cup history between the Fire and Crew:

October 30, 1998

Columbus Crew

W 2-1 (asdet)
Box Score

Podbrozny 45'
Klopas 99'

Soldier Field, Chicago, IL

July 20, 2004

Columbus Crew

W 2-1 (asdet)
Box Score

Ralph 66'
Ralph 105'

Columbus Crew Stadium, Columbus, OH

June 10, 2008

Columbus Crew*

W 3-2 (aet)
Box Score

S. King 10'
Herron 65'
Herron 116'

Shea Stadium, Peoria, IL

June 13, 2013

Columbus Crew

W 2-1
Box Score

Magee 29'
Nyarko 78'

Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL

June 25, 2014

Columbus Crew

W 4-2 (aet)
Box Score

Ianni 34'
Anangono 83'
Amarikwa 92'
Anangono 108'

Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL