Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World 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
Video Pick: Week 8 delivers best MLS golazos of 2015 so far    
Week 8 having produced a season-high 28 goals, it's no surprise these might be the best ...
What They're Saying: St. Mirren captain Steven Thompson    
"It sounds stupid now but for banter I grabbed one of the poles and pretended I ...
What They're Saying: Cuauhtemoc Blanco    
"When I'm mayor, I won't make mistakes with you." -- Cuauhtemoc Blanco, former Mexican star and ...
Road to Vancouver: Canada takes Matheson    
Host Canada named its 23-player squad for the Women's World Cup. In the big news, head ...
MLS Power Rankings: Red Bulls still on top, barely    
A high-scoring weekend moved several teams up Soccer America's MLS Power Rankings, but unbeaten New York ...
Europe in a Nutshell: Bayern clinches while world watches EPL    
Andrea Pirlo looks good losing; Watford's reality TV promotion; Champions League tidbits. Plus, why an insignificant ...
USL: Four unbeaten teams all triumph    
The Rochester Rhinos extended their unbeaten run to six matches with a 2-0 victory against the ...
What They're Saying: Jose Mourinho    
"I think boring is 10 years without a title -- that's boring. If you support a ...
U.S. Paralympic team prepping for world championship     
Coach Stuart Sharp has named a 16-player roster for the U.S. Paralympic national team's April 29-May ...
MLS Week 8: Altidore breaks out with two golazos    
Jozy Altidore scored his first two goals since opening with two goals in his debut with ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives