Chicago Fire 3, Charlotte Independence 1 | US Open Cup Match Recap
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Two goals from Mike Magee on either side of a Lovel Palmer thunderbolt sent the Chicago Fire to a 3-1 US Open Cup victory over the Charlotte Independence and a quarterfinals meeting with Orlando City SC.
The Fire showed patience and resilience in front of their Toyota Park home crowd as they were forced to recover from the visitors taking a fifth-minute lead through Tomasz Zahorski before goals from Magee and Palmer ensured their passage through to the last eight of a competition they have won four times.
Magee, who only recently returned to action after hip surgery last year, was making his first start for the Fire this year in any competition and just his third appearance after subbing on in two of Chicago’s last three league matches.
And he sparked the rally in the 37th minute when Palmer played a one-two with Kennedy Igboananike to set up a cross to the advancing Magee. He positioned himself in front of his marker and met the ball with typical conviction to clip over Charlotte goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap from 10 yards for his sixth goal in USOC play.
The Fire came out with purpose for the second 45 and took the lead in sensational fashion when Palmer found the back of the net with a stunning 30-yard left-footed strike following a cleared corner.
The 77th-minute introduction of Patrick Nyarko, who has missed the entire season with an ACL injury, brought one of the loudest cheers of the evening. They got even louder five minutes later when Nyarko and Magee combined to put the seal on the Fire’s victory.
Nyarko skipped through a couple of challenges on the right side of the area before centering for Magee to finish with aplomb past Gilstrap and put the game out of reach for a brave Charlotte side that forced Chicago ‘keeper Sean Johnson into four saves on the night.
Chicago are back in MLS action Friday night when they travel to play the Houston Dynamo.