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By Admin, 08/30/11, 8:30AM EDT


Kickers Fall 2-1 to Chicago Fire in US Open Cup Semifinals

Tuesday, August 30, 2011                                Toyota Park
Chicago Fire                                                        2 (Grazzini 32’, Oduro 61’)     
Richmond Kickers                                                1 (Yomby 68’)

BRIDGEVIEW, IL – The Richmond Kickers historic run in the U.S. Open Cup came to an end Tuesday night, as the Chicago Fire advanced to the Final, 2-1.  The Fire took an early lead, when Sebastian Grazzini converted a first half penalty.  Former Richmond Kickers Future (PDL) standout Dominic Oduro added to the scoreline in the second half before Kickers defender William Yomby pulled a goal back seven minutes later. The Kickers persevered for the equalizer but could not find the back of the net, sending the Fire through to an Open Cup Final against the defending champions Seattle Sounders.

The Kickers caught the Fire off guard directly out of the gates, applying steady pressure in their offensive third and attempting several shots inside the first 10 minutes.

First, Edson Elcock gathered the ball deep in Kickers territory and was off to the races on the left wing in the 8th minute.  The speedy midfielder switched the ball across the pitch to Mike Callahan who played it back to a wide open Matthew Delicate.  With one touch, Delicate swiftly played a well-placed ball to Ryan Heins who settled the ball and rocketed a strike from distance, but his shot soared skyward.  
Then, Kickers defender Sascha Görres played a long ball to midfielder Vercollone who attempted a shot from the top of the 18 but goalkeeper Sean Johnston was able to smother the ball.
Despite the early pressure, it was the Fire who broke the ice in the 32nd minute when Dave Hertel was called for a rash tackle against forward Patrick Nyarko, inside a crowded Kickers box.  Argentinean midfielder Sebastian Grazzini stepped up to the penalty spot and buried a low ball into the right corner to give the home side the early advantage.

Just before the first half whistle, the Fire came close to a second goal when Nyarko battled Kickers defender Dave Hertel for the ball on the left flank.  The physical skirmish ended when Nyarko dispossessed Hertel of the ball and fed it inside to an onrushing Dominic Oduro, who played it wide to an awaiting Grazzini on the right corner of the box.  Under pressure, Grazzini unleashed a strike from 12 yards out but squandered the opportunity by sending it over the woodwork.

Gaining momentum with a one-goal lead, the Fire pressed forward and nearly doubled their advantage in the 58th minute.  Former VCU hitman, Oduro, won the ball on the left side of the box and sliced it across to Nyarko on the far touchline.  Nyarko’s miss-hit rebounded to Logan Pause at the top of the box, who turned and struck a low drive on target but Pascale was able to scoop up the dangerous ball.

Not to be denied a second time, the Fire registered a second tally three minutes later when an unstoppable Oduro beat his mark down the left wing.  Measuring his shot perfectly, he lofted a brilliant ball into the far upper 90, rendering Pascale helpless.

With the match far from over, an offensive substitution shook up the Chicago defense and allowed the Kickers to pull a goal back in the 68th minute.  Görres whipped a free kick from the left side in behind the Fire backline.  A streaking Yomby muscled his way through traffic and headed the ball against the underside of the crossbar from point blank range.

In a last minute effort to push the game into overtime, Görres lined up a free kick, inches from the box.  His inswinger found Nozomi Hiroyama positioned at the far post but Japanese International’s header was cleared over the crossbar.

The Kickers 2011 season came to an end at Toyota Park as Chicago advanced to the U.S. Open Cup final.  Stay tuned to for 2012 season ticket information.

Box Score             First Half         Second Half             Final
Chicago                      1                        1                           2
Richmond                   0                        1                           1                                                                     

Scoring Summary
32nd minute: Chicago - Sebastian Grazzini (Penalty)
61st minute: Chicago - Dominic Oduro (Patrick Nyarko)
68th minute: Richmond – William Yomby (Sascha Goerres)

Fire: GK Sean Johnson, Dan Gargan, Jalil Anibaba, Cory Gibbs, Conzalo Segares, Marco Pappa, Daniel Paladini, Logan Pause, Sebastian Grazzini (Baggio Husidic – 46’), Dominic Oduro (Diego Chaves – 89’), Patrick Nyarko

Kickers: GK Ronnie Pascale, Sascha Görres, Henry Kalungi (Jamel Wallace – 85’), William Yomby, Dave Hertel (Shaka Bangura 66’), Luke Vercollone, Ryan Heins, Stanley Nyazamba (Nozomi Hiroyama 55’), Michael Callahan, Edson Elcock, Matthew Delicate

Shots                   Saves                 Fouls                   Corners
Kickers:     6         Kickers:      3      Kickers:    9          Kickers:     2
Fire:          9         Fire:           1       Fire:       13          Fire:          3

14th minute: Stanley Nyazamba (Richmond)
77th minute: Henry Kalungi (Richmond)


Referee:                                               Jasen Anno
Assistant Referees:                              Anthony Vasoli, Peter Balciunas
Fourth Official:                                      Michael Kennedy
Attendance:                                          8,909
Weather:                                               Overcast, then rain 78¢ª