Nothing comes easy for the Fire and a trip to Atlanta to face a suspension depleted NASL club with a 3-5-1 record was no exception. A gritty 3-1 victory over the Silverbacks was the Fire's first win on artificial turf since June 28, 2011.
Frank Yallop fielded close to a first choice side but Atlanta still enjoyed an advantage from the run of play for long stretches in the contest. Two crucial saves from Sean Johnson early in the match kept Atlanta from taking the lead and gave Chicago an opportunity to jump ahead in the 50th minute. A Harry Shipp free kick was kept alive by Jeff Larentowicz and Quincy Amarikwa cleaned up the loose ball to give the visitors a lead. As is customary, the Fire allowed a goal four minutes later to even the score at one apiece.
The contest remained deadlocked until the 81st minute when newcomer Matt Fondy was tripped in the box drawing a penalty kick. Larentowicz put away the ensuing chance from the spot for the game winner. Alex added an insurance goal in the 86th.
The Fire will now face the winner of tonight's Portland v Seattle match on August 13 on the road. If the Fire are to advance to the US Open Cup Final, they'll be without Mike Magee who was shown a red card along with Atlanta defender Jesus Gonzalez after the two scuffled in the 31st minute.
D Watson (Palmer 46'), Soumare, Hurtado, Cochrane
M Ward, Larentowicz, Pause (Alex 80'), Shipp
F Magee, Amarikwa (Fondy 63')
Bench not used: Reynish, Ianni, Segares, Ritter
UPDATE: Seattle defeated Portland 3-1 in overtime to advance to the semifinals. Marco Pappa scored the third goal for the Sounders.
The Fire will travel to Seattle for the game on August 13.