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March To The Match: Chicago Fire

WHO: Chicago Fire, MLS since 1997, 4 time winners of the U.S. Open Cup

WHAT: Louisville City’s third U.S. Open Cup match of this 2015 campaign, and third on the road, thanks to stadium availability problems.

WHEN: Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 8:30 p.m. EDT

WHERE: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL

WATCH: The match will, supposedly, be broadcast live on Chicago-Fire.com, though I couldn’t figure out exactly where as of Monday night. Join the Coopers at Against the Grain Brewery at Slugger Field and get sloshed watch it with us!

UPDATE: U.S. Soccer will be streaming the game live on its YouTube, and Louisville’s ESPN 680 will also be doing a live radio call of the game.

WHO, AGAIN? Chicago became MLS’s ninth franchise thanks in no small part to friend of the Coopers and current Indy Seven Eleven president Peter Wilt. The Fire have won one MLS Cup and four U.S. Open Cups since their inception.

I follow MLS quite a bit, and aside from Harry Shipp, Chicago is not fun to watch. They were one of the first MLS clubs to get their own soccer specific stadium, but unfortunately they built it in a place outside of Chicago that isn’t serviced by public transportation, which is kind of a big deal in the Windy City. Since moving out to Bridgeview, the Fire have sort of faded into MLS obscurity, having missed the playoffs four of the past five seasons. Almost half of the teams in MLS make the playoffs. It’s hard to miss the post season in a playoff format that open that often, but you did it, Chicago Fire!

That said, they do still take the USOC seriously. You can tell because they sent Mike Magee down with Saint Louis two weeks ago to scout Team Purple. I mean, that’s not what they said, but you could argue that’s what they were doing. You could bolster that argument by pointing out that the Fire also sent Collin Fernandez to Louisville City on a “loan” deal that lasted until yesterday, when he was called back to Chicago and is slated to start tonight. You could then bring it home by saying that there’s a trap door located underneath the Scott Goodwin’s goal that was installed just for this match. You don’t know they didn’t do that. Clearly, the Fire front office isn’t above doing under the table stuff to get an advantage. Against a USL team.

Probable starters: GK Jon “Methuselah” Busch, D Joevin Jones, Eric Gehrig, Patrick Doody, and former UofL Cardinal Greg Cochrane, M Harry Shipp, Shaun Maloney, Jeff Larentowicz, Michael Stephens, Collin Fernandez, F Kennedy Igboananike

PREDICTION: It’s been a good run, but with all the shady business the Fire have been up to in preparation for this match*, it’ll probably go down as a 2-1 win for Chicago. That said, it’s still the modern-era Fire, so they could totally screw this up.

COME ON CITY

*Temporary roof installed over Toyota Park to keep the Gremlins from getting wet