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Chicago gains measure of redemption, taking title 2-1 over Fusion.

CHICAGO (Saturday, October 21, 2000) -- Striker Hristo Stoitchkov scored in the waning moments of the first half and the Chicago Fire benefited from an own goal just before the end of regulation in defeating the Miami Fusion 2-1 to capture the the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship before 19,146 at Soldier Field tonight.

Miami’s managed to get on the scoreboard when Roy Lassiter found net six minutes into injury time.

The 1998 MLS champion won its second U.S. Open Cup title in three years after completing the double by winning the tournament in the team’s first season of 1998.

"We are obviously very happy to win this U.S. Open Cup. It helps a little, but not all the way of taking some of the sting out of last week's loss (in the Major League Soccer championship match last Sunday)," Chicago coach Bob Bradley said. "As far as a club in its third year, to win three championships is something special."

Moments before the break, Fire midfielder and captain Peter Nowak hit a precise 20-yard through ball to Ante Razov. With one touch, Razov beat Fusion goalkeeper Nick Rimando and then played the ball across to Hristo Stoitchkov, who smacked the ball into an open Fusion goal for a 1-0 Fire lead in the 44th minute.

The Fire squandered a prime opportune to secure the match in 72nd minute after Fusion defender Tim Sahaydak brought down Nowak inside the Fusion penalty area. Fusion goalkeeper Nick Rimando dove to his left and stopped Razov's penalty kick, preserving the one-goal deficit.

In the 88th minute, Chicago did take a 2-0 lead when Fusion defender Tyrone Marshall inadvertently placed DaMarcus Beasley’s cross into his own net.

"The poor lad was seeing three balls, that was the problem," Miami coach Ray Husdon said. "The poor kid was so concussed, it was like he fought Mike Tyson last night. He was hearing bells all the way through the second half. It was terrible, but there are 11 broken hearts in that lockerroom, 12 including me. It really hurts. The only salvation is that we did our wonderful organization and our great owner and great general manager and myself proud."

Miami was able to get on the board when Welton picked up a ball from fellow forward Roy Lassiter inside the box to tally his sixth goal of the tournament in the 96th minute, moments before the final whistle.

"As much as we admire the Chicago Fire's brilliant performance last week, I think the boot was on the other foot tonight, because I thought we absolutely embarrassed Chicago in the first half," Hudson said. "Embarrassed them. Footballed them off the park. There was only one football team out there in the first half and that was the Miami Fusion."

Nine yellow cards were handed out in the sometimes contentious match, five to the Fusion.

"We talked through the week about how Miami would come in here with tremendous emotion and they certainly did that," Bradley said. "It was a hard fought game, typical of what you would expect in a final anywhere around the world. On our end, it is a nice way to finish the season."

The two teams exchanged an arsenal of shots on goal in the first half with both teams hitting the crossbar. In the 19th minute, Beasley hit a looping header that almost caught Rimando off his line. Backpeddling, Rimando was able to get a hand on the ball and tip it off the cross bar and out of bounds.

Fusion forward Diego Serna was denied by the post in the 29th minute when he controlled a cross from the left-side and fired a shot from 10 yards out.

"This was absolutely wonderful," Stoitchkov said. "We won one of our two title games here at home tonight, in front of the most loyal fans in this league. I'm a very, very happy man, and I'm very proud to be a part of this team. I'm especially happy for our younger players right now, like DaMarcus and Josh (Wolff). This was a great win for them. Yes, our team was of course disappointed with the loss at MLS Cup 2000. But tonight we feel better and we should have won last weekend as well. It was tough to swallow, but that's just the nature of the game.

The goal for Welton put him atop the U.S. Open Cup scoring chart with 14 points, one better than teammate Diego Serna and the Fire's Wolff, who both ended with 13 points. The goal also tied him with Wolff as the tournament's leading goal-getter with six.

Dating back to 1914, the U.S. Open Cup is the oldest cup competition in United States soccer and is among the oldest in the world. The 2000 tournament started in June with 154 teams.

Chicago Fire 2, Miami Fusion 1

Lineups: Chicago - Zach Thornton, C.J. Brown, Lubis Kubik, Diego Gutierrez (Tom Soehn 86), Evan Whitfield, Chris Armas, DaMarcus Beasley, Dema Kovalenko, Peter Nowak - captain (Jesse Marsch 84), Hristo Stoitchkov, Ante Razov (Josh Wolff 84). Miami - Nick Rimando, Tim Sahaydak, Pablo Mastroeni (captain), Tyrone Marshall, Brian Kamler, Jeff Bilyk (Andy Williams 75), Jay Heaps, Henry Gutierrez (Roy Lassiter 63), Martin Machon, Welton, Diego Serna.

Scoring:
Chicago - Stoitchkov (Razov) 44.
Chicago - own goal (Marshall) 88.
Miami - Welton (Lassister) 96+.

Shots: Chicago 13, Miami 7. Saves: Chicago 2, Miami 5. Corner kicks: Chicago 7, Miami 4. Fouls: Chicago 25, Miami 22. Offside: Chicago 3, Miami 0. Yellow card cautions: Chicago - Brown 24, Beasley 48, Razov 55, Stoitchkov 75; Miami - Serna 20, Welton 27, Heaps 27, Bilyk 36. Sahaydak 72.

Referee: Kevin Scott. Referee’s assistants: Scott Weyland, Jorge Reyes. Attendance: 19,146 at Soldier Field in Chicago. Weather: 64 degrees, cool, clear

Leading Tournament Scorers
Player Team GP G A Pts
Welton Miami Fusion 5 6 2 14
Wolff, Josh Chicago Fire 5 6 1 13
Serna, Diego Miami Fusion 5 4 5 13

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