The Chicago Fire mounted the first-half lead they were seeking and rode their advantage to a comfortable 4-0 win over USL side Louisville City FC Wednesday night at Toyota Park, advancing to the semifinals of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in the process. Check out a few news, notes and milestones from the win:
First and foremost, the Fire clinched a return to the U.S. Open Cup's semifinal round after a year away in 2017, extending their Open Cup record for most all-time semifinal appearances with 13. The four-time champion Fire have now advanced to the semifinals in six of the last eight years, and will be seeking their seventh all-time appearance in the tournament final when they take on the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, August 8. (More: U.S. Open Cup Draw Postponed)
The Fire also preserved their stellar record of results at Toyota Park in U.S. Open Cup play with Wednesday's win. Playing on their home turf after five consecutive road contests in the historic tournament, the Fire extended their home unbeaten streak to nine consecutive U.S. Open Cup games (8-0-1), with their last loss at Toyota Park coming in the 2013 semifinals vs. D.C. United.
On the Scoresheet
Both Aleksandar Katai and Nemanja Nikolic remained red-hot for the Men In Red Wednesday night, linking up for the game's opening goal in the 16th minute before featuring again in the buildup to Katai's 32nd-minute strike that doubled the hosts' lead. Including two U.S. Open Cup games, Katai now has eight goals and four assists in his last 13 appearances in all competitions, while Nikolić netted his fourth goal in three U.S. Open Cup outings this season.
Nikolić also increased his career goals total with the Fire to 37 in all competitions (33 MLS, 4 U.S. Open Cup), one behind David Accam (38) in fourth and two behind Josh Wolff (39) for third on the Fire's all-time list.
Later in the game, rookies Diego Campos and Elliot Collier each opened their U.S. Open Cup accounts with insurance goals in the 90th and 92nd minutes, respectively. For both Campos and Collier, the goals represented their second of 2018, with each having recorded one apiece in MLS regular season play to date.
This and That
- The Fire's four goals scored Wednesday night marked the most for the club in a single U.S. Open Cup match since a 4-2 extra-time win over Columbus in 2014, while the four-goal margin of victory was the most for the Fire since June 26, 2013 against a then-USL side Orlando City SC.
- Veljko Paunovic improved to 4-1-3 in eight U.S. Open Cup games as manager of the Fire, with a 2-1 mark in PK shootout results.