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WATCH SEMIFINALS LIVE TONIGHT!

By Admin, 08/29/11, 3:45PM EDT

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Kickers Face Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire at Toyota Park

Richmond, VA – (Monday, August 29, 2011) – The Richmond Kickers’ remarkable run to the U.S. Open Cup Semifinals is making history, with the biggest game in the club’s 20-year tenure taking place on Tuesday, August 30.  The momentous match-up pits the Kickers against Major League Soccer side Chicago Fire at Toyota Park in Chicago.  Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. CT at Toyota Park.  The winner will advance to the U.S. Open Cup Finals to take on the winner of the F.C. Dallas/Seattle Sounders match-up on Tuesday, October 4.  The Kickers are just one win away from their first appearance in the U.S. Open Cup Finals since 1995. 

Join Kickers fans and friends at Gus' Bar & Grill, located at 2701 W. Broad Street for the official game-watching party.  Free parking is conveniently located across the street at the Children's Museum.  Tonight's match will be streamed online at Chicago-fire.com.

“The U.S. Open Cup Semifinal is the game of the decade for the Kickers,” commented Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond Kickers Head Coach and Director of Soccer.  “We ran into a top class Orlando team on Saturday who performed exceptionally well on the day. Fortunately, we have one more opportunity to finish our season in style. We look forward to channeling our disappointment into producing our best game of the season. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

The Kickers became the first lower division team to defeat back-to-back MLS teams on the road following a 2-0 upset over Sporting Kansas City in the U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals on July 12.  After a one hour, 30 minute lightning delay, Kickers forward Shaka Bangura connected on a David Bulow cross to net the first goal of the night in the 66th minute.  Bulow added a tally of his own when he converted a penalty kick in the 82nd minute, becoming the U.S. Open Cup all-time leading goal scorer, and handing Sporting Kansas City their first-ever loss at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.

Two weeks earlier, in the lone upset of the Third Round, the Kickers ejected Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew, 2-1, from Open Cup action at Columbus Crew Stadium on June 28.  Midfielder Nozomi Hiroyama gave the visitors an early lead when he connected on a Stanley Nyazamba pass in the 20th minute.  Crew midfielder Cole Grossman brought the score level in the 37th minute before the Kickers prolific goal scorer Matthew Delicâte nodded home the game-winning goal five minutes from regulation. 

The Kickers advanced to the Third Round after a pair of convincing 4-1 victories at Richmond City Stadium over USL PRO rivals Dayton Dutch Lions and Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the first two rounds. 

Meanwhile, the Chicago Fire handed a 4-0 decision to MLS opponent New York Red Bulls in the Quarterfinals with former Richmond Kickers Future (PDL) standout Dominic Oduro notching the first goal of the night.  Yamith Cuesta added a second tally, with Orr Barouch rounding out the scoreline with a pair to help the Fire cruise to an easy victory over a defenseless Red Bulls squad.

The only MLS club on the road for the Third Round, the Fire faced a tighter contest against giant-killer Rochester and came away with a narrow 1-0 win, courtesy of a lone goal by Diego Chavez. 

Seeded fourth overall, Chicago opened the play-in tournament in the second round of the western bracket of MLS qualifying and defeated the defending MLS Cup Champion Colorado Rapids on March 30 with a 2-1 victory.  Then, a back-and-forth affair against the San Jose Earthquakes came down to a penalty kick shootout, which saw the Fire advance to the Open Cup, 5-4.

The 2011 season marks the 13th time the Richmond Kickers have qualified for the U.S. Open Cup over the past 19 seasons, with an overall record of 23-11 during tournament play.  The Kickers claimed the U.S. Open Cup title the first year of the “Professional Era” in 1995 and have since made it to the quarterfinal round five times (1995, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2011), ousting five Major League Soccer teams along the way including Colorado Rapids in 2000, DC United in 2004, LA Galaxy in 2007 and Columbus Crew and Sporting Kansas City in 2011.  With 76 total goals scored during the Open Cup, the Kickers set several franchise records, as well as a Professional Era U.S. Open Cup record, for most goals (12) during the 8-4 rout over the Ocean City Barons in 2005.

Kickers vs Fire
The Richmond Kickers and the Chicago Fire meet for the second time in history, and for the first time since a 2004 U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal match at Richmond City Stadium.  Chicago’s lone goal, early in the second half, was enough to dismiss the Kickers from advancing to the Semifinals of the 2004 tournament.  Unable to capitalize on several scoring opportunities, Richmond could not equalize as Chicago edged the Kickers 1-0.  That season, Chicago advanced to the Finals where they dropped a narrow 1-0 decision to the Kansas City Wizards.

Tickets
Kickers fans traveling to Chicago for Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup match can purchase specially discounted tickets for just $15 in advance.  Regularly priced admission is $20-$80.  Click here: http://tinyurl.com/KickersvsFiretickets and enter the promotion code “Richmond” before creating a new account to purchase tickets.  Contact Brendan Mulroe at 312-283-7033 to order by phone.

About Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup has crowned a champion for 97 consecutive years beginning in 1914. Like recent editions, the U.S. Open Cup is a single-elimination tournament, with games tied after regulation extended by two 15-minute overtime halves. If a winner is not determined in overtime, advancement will be determined by kicks from the penalty spot.   The 2011 champion will earn a $100,000 cash prize, while the runner-up will collect $50,000. The top Division III and Amateur Division clubs will each receive a $10,000 prize.

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