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Fire set to take on Crew in U.S. Open Cup play

The Fire face a familiar foe as they resume U.S. Open Cup play on Wednesday night at Toyota Park.

Longtime-rival Columbus is on hand for the fifth-round match with a Cup quarterfinals berth on the line.

Fire coach Frank Yallop hopes his team continues a run of more cohesive play as demonstrated against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, last week's Open Cup foe.

"We played very well in the first half," Yallop said after one practice this week. "We're trying to play a little more collective soccer, which means keeping the ball a little more and not giving it up in bad areas and get broken and scored on."

The Fire claimed a 2-1 victory in a game called after 49 minutes because of rain and lightning.

Inclement weather also affected last year's U.S. Open Cup clash between the Fire and Crew, which resulted in a 2-1 Fire victory after the game was postponed a day because of severe weather.

Calmer and partly cloudy conditions are forecast for Wednesday's match.

The Fire continue to regain health during their break from MLS play and only forward Patrick Nyarko remains out indefinitely as he recovers from a sprained knee and ankle surgery.

Forward Mike Magee played all 49 minutes last week against Pittsburgh and expects to be available for all 90 minutes Wednesday.

"I'm feeling great," he said.

The Fire own four U.S. Open Cup titles, are 34-11-4 in all-time play and have lost only once in 24 matches played in Illinois. Columbus is 21-13-2 in 36 cup matches dating back to 1998, including a 2002 championship.

The Fire are also 4-0 all-time against the Crew, including a 2-1 in overtime to win the 1998 championship in a Fire's inaugural season that also included an MLS championship.

Wednesday's winner will visit either the Colorado Rapids or Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL on a date to be determined.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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