By ANTHONY ZILIS
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – After scoreless periods of regulation and extra time in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup, the Chicago Fire were defeated in penalty kicks, 3-0, by the Charleston Battery in front of 2,526 at Toyota Park.
In succession, Brian McBride hit his penalty over the goal, Krzysztof Krol's shot was saved by Tim Melia and Wilman Conde sent his into the crossbar. Charleston's penalty takers made all three of their kicks, with midfielder Ian Fuller scoring the clincher.
"It feels good," Fuller said. "Obviously we were under the gun a lot in the second half and especially in overtime. We defended properly and that’s what you get.”
The Fire, which started only three of the same players it started in Sunday's game against New England, looked lethargic early on. The second half was a different story, as Fire regulars Patrick Nyarko, Conde and McBride filtered into the game. Conde was deployed as a defensive midfielder, and the Fire were able to control possession for most of the second half.
"These games are the hardest ones to play," Nyarko said. "These teams come in with nothing to lose, pack it in and try to score on a counter attack."
Charleston actually put the Major League Soccer club on the defensive for the opening minutes of the game, controlling play as former MLS journeyman Stephen Armstrong hit the post on a shot from about 30 yards out in the 5th minute.
Armstrong's chance ended up being the best of the half by either team, as the Battery out-shot the Fire, 5-4, in the opening 45 minutes.
"We came out very well, which we wanted to do, and we almost caught them early in the first half which really helped us put them under pressure," Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser said.
The Battery formed a defensive shell that the Fire weren't able to break in the second half and in extra time, and the USL-2 team was able to force penalty kicks, which proved deadly for the Fire.
"I thought we started a bit slow but as the game went on we got a bit more into it and got most of the possession as the game went on," said the Fire's rookie goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who replaced starter Andrew Dykstra for the second time in non-MLS play.
Tuesday was the third time in four years the Fire fell to a USL team in Open Cup play.
"We had control of the game all the time," Fire head coach Carlos de Los Cobos said. "You don't take advantage of your opportunities and things happen like they happened tonight."
Elsewhere in Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup third-round action:
RED BULLS FALL IN EXTRA TIME
The New York Red Bulls couldn't get it done against former goalie Danny Cepero and the Harrisburg City Islanders. Hans Backe sent out a younger lineup, with Brian Nielsen returning from injury and Conor Chin, Juan Agudelo and Irving Garcia all earning a start.
After a scoreless 90 minutes, and almost 30 minutes of extra time, penalty kicks seemed inevitable. But Dominic Oppong's 117th minute winner knocked New York out of the U.S. Open Cup, and sealed Cepero's victory over his former side.
HALL, DYNAMO SHUT OUT MIAMI
Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall answered what few questions Miami asked of him, and the Dynamo finally broke through thanks to Lovel Palmer, who scored with just 10 minutes to go, sealing Houston's progress to the quarterfinals.
Miami goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell kept the USSF D-2 team alive momentarily by stuffing Richard Mulrooney's penalty kick early in the second half.
Tuesday night's encounter gave Houston coach Dominic Kinnear a chance to experiment against Miami FC, starting Luis Angel Landin in an attacking midfielder role. The Designated Player suffered an apparent knee injury in the first half, though, and had to be subbed off.
LENHART LEAVES IT LATE AGAINST ROCHESTER
The Columbus Crew needed stoppage time, but Steven Lenhart scored the winner to help Columbus avoid extra time and get past the pesky Rochester Rhinos 2-1.
Defender Andy Iro gave Columbus a first-half lead, but Darren Spicer leveled the match in the 69th minute, and Rochester almost grabbed the lead a few minutes later. Columbus held steady, and Lenhart stepped up just when it appeared that 30 more minutes would be needed.
CHIVAS USA WINS FOR ONLY SECOND TIME IN TOURNAMENT
With its MLS season in a swift decline, Chivas USA found a way to defeat the Austin Aztex, the USSF D-2 front-runners. A Jesus Padilla goal in the 12th minute was all the hosts needed in the 1-0 victory.
The win marked just the second time the Goats have won in the competition — the first one dating back to July 25, 2005, when they beat the Charlotte Eagles 3-2.
(Travis Clark contributed to this article)
What do you make of all the U.S. Open Cup matches? Surprised at the difficulty some MLS teams are having? Red Bulls and Fire fans, disappointed in your teams' results? Do you think a non-MLS team will win the tournament?
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