By IVES GALARCEP
For a brief moment, the Chicago Fire looked like they just might be the latest victim of Orlando City’s Cinderella run through the U.S. Open Cup when Rob Valentino delivered a second-half equalizer for the USL PRO side on Wednesday night.
Then, in the span of four minutes, the Fire provided a reminder that they, not Orlando City, are the team with the lengthy history of U.S. Open Cup success, rattling off a pair of goals just eight minutes after Valentino’s equalizer on their way to a 5-1 thrashing of Orlando City at Toyota Park on Wednesday night.
Four different players scored goals in the second half, including Chris Rolfe, who notched his second of the night, and Mike Magee, who made it seven goals in seven consecutive games to help seal the Fire’s place in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals, where they will face D.C. United. D.C. defeated New England, 3-1, in their quarterfinal earlier on Wednesday.
A 73rd-minute red card to Yann Song’o with the match already 3-1 to the Fire, helped open the floodgates, with Magee and Joel Lindpere delivering the final blows to end Orlando City’s valiant run through the tournament.
The star of the night for the Fire was goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who stepped up with his only save of the night on a dangerous Dom Dwyer chance in the 54th minute that could have given Orlando City the lead.
Johnson’s save sparked a strong surge from the Fire, who overwhelmed the Orlando City defense the rest of the match.
The victory keeps the Fire unbeaten in all competitions since the arrivals of Magee and Bakary Soumare, and now Chicago is a step away from returning to the U.S. Open Cup Final for the second time in three years. The Fire will be looking to win the fifth U.S. Open Cup title in the club’s history.