CHICAGO – It was a classic sports story that played out over a couple of hours on a chilly night in Bridgeview.
Here was Chicago Fire FC, the Major League Soccer franchise for the city, taking the pitch against a club that is semi-professional in its third year of existence at SeatGeek Stadium.
The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup brought them together to face each other in a third-round match-up on Wednesday evening.
Naturally, the squad in the top level of North American soccer was the favorite, but an upstart Chicago House AC club was on a special run of their own the past few months. After three wins in the qualifying tournament late in 2022, they won first and second round games in the US Open Cup over the last month.
That earned them the date against the Fire in Bridgeview, with the chance of not only pulling a major upset in American soccer but also advancing in the country’s oldest soccer tournament.
Meanwhile, the MLS club was hoping to prevent a repeat of what happened in 2022 in the third round of the US Open Cup, when USL League 1 side Forward Omaha upset the Fire at Soldier Field.
A “David vs. Goliath” situation? Probably a little too much, but it made for a unique night for the Chicago soccer community.
It was scoreless between the clubs for 26 minutes before the Fire made moves to take control of the match in the 26th minute. MLS veteran Kacper Przybyłko got the opening score of the match to put them ahead before one of the Fire’s young players took the spotlight.
Kendall Burks, the club’s first round selection in 2022, notched a goal in the 37 minute to make it 2-0 at halftime before making it a brace for the evening with his second score in the 70th minute.
Those were plenty to give the Fire the 3-0 win to continue their journey towards a fifth US Open Cup title and their first since 2006.
“What we told the players is, any competition that we enter, we want to win trophies. And it’s been a long time since this organization has lifted a trophy,” said Fire manager Ezra Hendrickson after the win. “Tonight was an opportunity for us to start changing that. It’s been some years now. It’s a way to reconnect with our fans. This tournament, especially having played in it, having coached in it before, it’s something that the supporters are really up for and it can really, really ignite and energize your fan base.”
As it turns out, the match on Wednesday did so for two supporter groups on a unique night in Bridgeview.