COLUMBUS, Ohio — It came down to a keeper vs. keeper match-up to decide who advanced in the 105th edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday. Columbus blinked, Chicago didn’t.
Playing with a squad that more resembled a traveling “B” team than a professional side, the Crew left two of their best on the bench (Gyasi Zardes and Federico Higuain) and chose to start a team that included five players who had yet to start a game this season and three others who had not played in any games this year.
Still the Crew came out and grabbed an early lead just ten minutes into the game when a Niko Hansen pass found Christian Martinez in the center of the box and was rifled home by the young Panamanian.
The Fire’s Nemanja Nikolic equalized just minutes before the halftime whistle and then doubled the Fire’s lead in the 109th minute with a volley from just outside the 6 yard box.
With the Crew’s U.S. Open run looking to close out early, the Crew showed signs of life when, in the 114th minute, Adam Jahn found a Martinez cross and banged it in to draw the score even.
After 120 minutes, with the score still even, the penalty shootout began and after Chicago’s Nemanja Nikolic slammed his shot off of the crossbar. The Fire would not miss again in the shootout, winning when Crew Keeper Logan Ketterer was unable to convert on his penalty kick to continue the shootout.
Chicago is now 8-0 all-time in the U.S. Open Cup against Columbus.
Despite the loss, the Crew are still only three points back from the lead in the Eastern Conference as they sit at third in their conference standings with 26 points on the season.
The Crew will be back in action on June 9th against the New York Red Bulls. Kickoff on Saturday is scheduled for 5:00pm ET at Mapfre Stadium.
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