Mike Magee scored twice and Lovel Palmer added a goal and an assist as the Fire defeated USL side Charlotte Independence to advance to the US Open Cup Quarterfinals. The visitors put forward a good effort and kept the score line close but it wasn't enough to get by another MLS side on the road.
The Independence defeated the New England Revolution in the last round and actually took the lead in the 5th minute when Tomasz Zahorski found a pocket in the middle of the Fire's backline and beat Sean Johnson with a clean finish. The space was created wen Adailton was caught out of position and Matt Polster couldn't recover quickly enough to deny him the ball.
Magee tied it in the 37th minute with a cool finish reminiscent of his 2013 campaign after receiving a well placed ball from Lovel Palmer. The right back gave the Fire the lead in the 50th minute with a left footed blast from 30 yards that got by Charlotte 'keeper Richard Gilstrap.
The Fire got off to what Frank Yallop called a "nervous and edgy" start but the most encouraging sight of the night came in the 82nd minute. Patrick Nyarko used his first touch of the match to get by Charlotte defenders to feed Magee for another well taken opportunity. If both players can regain close to their top form, the Fire may be able to salvage something out of this season.
Frank Yallop discussed the match, the upcoming game against Houston, injuries, and the plan for additions in the transfer window as a result of impending MLS rule changes during his post game press conference.
D Palmer (Gehrig 81'), Polster, Adailton, Cochrane
M Shipp (Nyarko 77'), Watson, Ritter, Jones
F Magee, Igboananike (J. Johnson 71')
The Fire will host Orlando City in the quarter finals on July 21 or 22.
Catch post-game video interviews with Mike Magee, Patrick Nyarko, and Mike Jeffries at the Fire Confidential Facebook page.