By DAVID GUBALA
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill — After five years without lifting a trophy, the longest drought in the club's 14-year history, the Chicago Fire moved one step closer to giving their fans a new trophy to celebrate.
The Chicago Fire defeated the Richmond Kickers, 2-1, in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup at Toyota Park on Tuesday night. Goals from Sebastian Grazzini and Dominic Oduro helped propel the Fire to their sixth U.S. Open Cup Final, and first since 2006.
Grazzini converted a penalty kick and Oduro finished off a beautiful goal for Chicago, which will take on the Seattle Sounders in the U.S. Open Cup Final in Seattle on Oct. 4th. The Sounders beat FC Dallas, 1-0, in the other U.S. Open Cup semifinal.
Chicago interim head coach Frank Klopas stressed the importance of his team coming out with the right mentality, addressing that Richmond was no team they approached softly.
"I just want to give a lot of credit to my players and my team," said Klopas. "Today we felt a little mentally tired after the Colorado win but I knew that we came out with the right attitude. If you underestimate your opponent, sometimes you can put yourself in a bad situation. They're a good team and made it very difficult for us to play."
The Fire managed to finally break the deadlock in the 34th minute after what proved to be a very threatening first 30 minutes from the visiting team.
A sprinting Nyarko was taken down in the box by Richmond's Luke Vercollone and earned Chicago a penalty kick in the 34th minute of play.
One of the club's most recent acquisitions, Grazzini stepped up to the spot and slotted it comfortably in the right corner to put the Fire on the board.
It was a very hectic ending to the first half but it was the home side that walked to the locker rooms with the lead.
Grazzini left the match at halftime, coming out for Baggio Husidic after suffering a hamstring injury.
"Grazzini tweaked his hamstring," Klopas said. "We have to evaluate tomorrow and hopefully it's not too bad."
The Fire increased their margin to two goals in the 61st minute after quite a remarkable sequence of events between Dominic Oduro and Patrick Nyarko.
"It was a great ball by the sideline. He (Nyarko) committed himself to one side, I saw the net on the other side, and I just tried to whip the ball in," said Oduro, who leads team in scoring with 11 goals this year.
Oduro managed to create another one of his signature poised runs into the box and passed it off to Nyarko before receiving a flick return pass back to his feet. The Ghanaian forward then cut to his right and slotted the ball into the upper corner to give the Fire a two-goal cushion.
Richmond responded just seven minutes later and was able to get right back into the match in the 70th minute Yomby Wiliam redirected a well-placed delivery from Michael Callahan to make the score 2-1. The 6-foot-4 defender saw his effort bounce off the crossbar and into the goal to cut the deficit in half.
Despite both sides subbing in attacking reinforcements late in the second half, the score stood in Chicago's favor.
The Fire will now look to build on their recent success after collecting three consecutive wins for the first time since May 28, 2009
They now travel to Seattle, where they'll take on the reigning U.S. Open Cup Champions atCenturyLink Field. The Fire have won the cup four out of their five times in the final and will be looking to adding another trophy as a consolation prize in an otherwise disappointing year for the Fire.