Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Chicago eyes SuperLiga silverware
by Ridge Mahoney, August 5th, 2009 7AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[SUPERLIGA] After it lost the Eastern Conference final in Columbus last year, Fire head coach Denis Hamlett cited that one of the team's priorities in 2009 would be to win the regular-season conference title to assure it homefield advantage in the playoffs.

He also resolved to improve his team's road performance, because away games can be just as critical in shaping a team's destiny in the regular season as well as the playoffs, and, as it turns out, international competitions as well. Chicago (8-3-8) is just a point out of first place in the Eastern Conference, boasts one of the league's best road records (5-1-4), and needs just one more win to capture a trophy.

By beating defending SuperLiga champion New England, 2-1, at Gillette Stadium in the semifinals last month, the Fire: a) notched an important road victory, and b) earned the right to host the final. It faces UNL (Tigres) Wednesday at Toyota Park (8 p.m. ET, Galavision) in a rematch of their group game June 26 at Toyota Park won by the Mexican team, 2-1, with a pair of goals by Armando Pulido.

Despite winning the match to finish group play with a 2-1 record, UNL didn't know it had advanced until later in the evening, when Chivas USA and San Luis played the final group match. And had Chicago lost, 2-0, instead of 2-1, it would not have held advantages in tiebreakers that rendered the Chivas USA-San Luis result irrelevant from its perspective.

Confusing? Well, that's SuperLiga, which some teams on both sides of the border take more seriously than others. For the Fire, anxious to add something besides the three U.S. Open Cups (2000, 2003, 2006) it has won in this decade, it has been a high priority.

"Every time you can fill up the trophy case, it is exciting," said defender Bakary Soumare. "Especially at home, we are looking forward to a good crowd, and hopefully we get to celebrate in front of the home crowd."

Chicago has beaten San Luis and Chivas USA at home in SuperLiga play, but only by 1-0 scores, and its MLS mark at Toyota Park is a mediocre 3-2-4 with a less-than-mediocre eight goals scored in those nine games. It comes into this match off a win in league play, a 1-0 home win over Real Salt Lake fashioned on a staunch defensive effort and a fine goal headed by Patrick Nyarko from an excellent Tim Ward cross.

UNL sent out a team of mostly reserves and youth-team pyers for the June 26 match, and led 2-0 until a foul by Pulido on Nyarko provided a penalty-kick opportunity that Cuauhtemoc Blanco tucked away in the 85 th minute to nudge Chicago into the knockout phase. It has a victory (3-1 over Guadalajara last weekend) and a tie in its two league games.

In the all-Mexican semifinal that followed the Revs-Fire encounter, UNL beat Santos Laguna, 3-2. Tigres jumped on top with a goal in third minute and rode strikes by Jesus Molina, Kikin Fonseca and Francisco Torres to subdue Santos, which hit the post twice during a spirited rally but never caught up. UNL also played the last 20 minutes a man down following a second caution handed out to Lucas Lobos, who is suspended for the final.

Though there are a few holdovers from the 2006 team that won the Open Cup, most of the players - as well as Hamlett - have come aboard since then, including former Crew goalkeeper Jon Busch.

 

"It's all about lifting a cup," says Busch, the 2008 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year who has posted four straight shutouts in league play. "Nothing else matters."

 

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Where to Watch European Soccer    
The new European club season has started up. Here are places Soccer America readers recommend where ...
Soccer America Men's Top 25 Scoreboard    
[ROUNDUP: Friday] No. 7 New Mexico had to settle for a 1-1 tie with Drexel before ...
Wooten scores second late winner in two weeks    
[AMERICANS ABROAD] German-American Andrew Wooten scored his second game-winning goal in two games to lead Sandhausen ...
Dempsey teams up again with XO    
[VIDEO PICK: Music] The FIFA 15 release party in New York featured its cover boy, Clint ...
New and the old square off in semifinals    
[USL PRO: Semifinals] Two first-year clubs -- Sacramento Republic FC and La Galaxy II -- and ...
Attention on battle for first place -- and fourth    
[NASL: Fall Week 11] First place will be on the line Saturday when the San Antonio ...
Nasco nightmare gives RSL Rocky Mountain Cup    
[MLS: Friday] Joe Nasco, the former Georgia police officer who made his MLS debut this summer ...
Riquelme still brilliant at 36     
[VIDEO PICK: Golazo] Argentine playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme has always been one of the most delightful ...
What They're Saying: Danny Murphy    
"Basically, half his finger was off and you could see his tendon. Glass shattered -- it ...
Abbott is 'incredibly impressed' with Sac scene    
[MLS SPOTLIGHT] How does Sacramento stack up? MLS president Mark Abbott said he's not about to ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives