Chicago Fire Comes To St. Louis Wednesday To Face Saint Louis FC In Open Cup
The Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer will come to St. Louis this week to face Saint Louis FC in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday at Toyota Stadium at World Wide Technology Soccer Park.
(Insert corny line about MLS coming to St. Louis after all.)
Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm on Wednesday. The match will mark the first time a MLS club has played an Open Cup match in St. Louis.
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is being held for the 104th time in 2017. The 2016 edition of the tournament featured 91 clubs ranging from eventual champion FC Dallas of MLS to amateur club San Francisco City FC.
St. Louis Saw Success In National Challenge Cup
The story of St. Louis’s strong soccer history ranks in the same category as the hosting of the 1904 World’s Fair. It’s very likely they both come directly after a visitor to the city hears “there’s the Arch.”
That history extends to the Open Cup, which began as the National Challenge Cup in 1914 and was renamed in honor of Lamar Hunt in 1999. Nine times a team representing St. Louis has hoisted the trophy at the end of the tournament.
The St. Louis Ben Millers brought the city its first championship in 1920 and the St. Louis Busch Seniors won the most recent championship in 1988. From 1933-1937, the team sponsored by the Stix Baer & Fuller department store in St. Louis would win three National Challenge Cup titles and finish as the runners-up in two additional years.
Since 1996, when MLS clubs began play in the tournament, a team from the top league in the U.S. Soccer pyramid has won the Open Cup each year, except for in 1999.
In 1999, the Rochester Rhinos of the second tier A-League beat the Colorado Rapids in the tournament final. The United Soccer League now occupies that second tier of the pyramid along with the North American Soccer League.
Recent Showings In Open Cup Spotty
Just like the history of professional outdoor soccer in St. Louis has been spotty, so has the city’s appearance in the Open Cup as of late.
The St. Louis Lions of the Premier Development League qualified for the tournament in 2008, but fell in the first round to the Minnesota Thunder of USL1.
In 2010, AC St. Louis advanced to the third round of the Open Cup to face the LA Galaxy at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California. The match was tied through the first 70 minutes when St. Louis native Chris Klein scored for the MLS side. LA would beat AC St. Louis keeper Alec Dufty again in the 80th minute to give the Galaxy the 2-0 win.
In 2015, Saint Louis FC traveled to Kansas City for a fourth round matchup with Sporting KC. Graham Zusi, a member of the U.S. Men’s National Team, would score the lone goal as Sporting would advance and eventually win the tournament that year.
Open Cup Has Been Good To Chicago Fire
The Chicago Fire has been one of the most successful MLS clubs in the Open Cup. The club has won the tournament four times and made it to the semifinals in each of the last four years. Last season, the Fire fell to the New England Revolution 3-1 in the semifinal round.
The Chicago Fire beat Atlanta United on Saturday to extend their undefeated streak to seven matches in MLS play. They currently sit second overall on the MLS table with a 8-4-3 record through 15 matches.
With Saturday’s match and a tilt with the Revolution coming up this Saturday, it’s likely some new faces will see playing time on Wednesday. Fans shouldn’t expect to the Fire’s leading scorer, Nemanja Nikolic or Bastian Schweinsteiger starting the match at Soccer Park. Although, it is possible one or both could see the field as a second-half substitute.
David Accam has scored seven goals and notched five assists for Chicago this season. In the 2016 Open Cup, Accam played in four of the Fire’s five matches and scored a goal each time out.
The 32-year old Schwiensteiger joined Chicago earlier this season after 18 appearances with Manchester United of the English Premiere League over two seasons. The German midfielder played for Bayern Munich from 2002-2015.
Up until this season, Saint Louis FC was affiliated with Chicago and fans should expect to see some familiar faces get minutes on the opposing side in St. Louis. Drew Connor and Patrick Doody will all likely see action, and friendly jeering from the St. Louligans. Collin Fernandez is currently with the Fire’s new USL affiliate, the Tulsa Roughnecks.
Speaking of the St. Louiligans the Chicago Fire supporters group, Section 8, will be bringing a busload of fans in for Wednesday’s match.
Solid Showing Could Have Huge Implications For St. Louis
Saint Louis FC will be coming into Wednesday’s match still smarting from a loss on Sunday to Bethlehem Steel FC. Preki was none too happy with his players after the game, pulling midfielder Dragan Stojkov from a postgame interview with reporters for a team meeting.
Preki himself elaborated on the meeting to Joe Lyons of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“We had a hard conversation in that locker room because I want winners and we’re not showing that right now.”
Sunday’s loss dropped STLFC to 4-4-3 on the season. With 11 games played, the club is less than halfway through the 32-game USL season. While the local side sits in 11th place in the USL East, it’s worth noting the seven of the ten clubs ahead of them in the standings have played more games on the season.
Wednesday’s match will be the first opportunity to show Preki how they plan on reacting to the postgame meeting.
Juggling U.S. Open Cup matches along with league matches necessitate varying lineups.
Tyler David started up top for Preki’s squad on Sunday in the 4-4-2 formation along with Christian Volesky. That likely means Jose Angulo will start Wednesday’s match. Angulo had two goals in STLFC’s second round win over FC Wichita.
Milan Petosevic will likely not be availble for Preki’s club after having surgery last week. A timetable for his return has not been made public.
Aedan Stanley will also miss the match for STLFC. The youngster is in Portugal with the U-18 U.S. Men’s National Team.
Kick off for Wednesday’s match between the Chicago Fire and Saint Louis FC in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is set for 7:30 pm. A limited amount of tickets are available online at SaintLouisFC.com or by calling 636-680-0997.
Pub 2 Park shuttles will be running for Wednesday’s match. The shuttles from Molly’s In Soulard, Smugala’s Sunset Hill and Amsterdam Tavern will leave at 6 pm. The Pub 2 Park shuttle from Hot Shots Fenton is set to depart at 6:45 pm. Reserve your spot on a shuttle in advance here.
The match will also be streamed at USSoccer.com if you can’t make it out to World Wide Technology Soccer Park.
Can’t make it to the match? Here’s the link to stream the match online tonight.
29 years ago this month, on June 25, 1988 to be exact, John Hayes played a soccer match in between being in his brother’s wedding and attending the reception. His overtime goal gave St. Louis its last championship and its last huge win in the U.S. Open Cup competition.
29 years later. Same field. Same result?
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