ATLANTA — The Chicago Fire welcomed back two players who missed the previous game, and each scored a goal Wednesday in a 3-1 win over the Atlanta Silverbacks in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match.
The Fire got goals from forward Quincy Amarikwa, who served a one-game suspension for yellow-card accumulation, and midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, who missed a game due to the birth of his child, to reach the semifinals for the second consecutive year.
The Fire play in Major League Soccer, the top tier of U.S. professional soccer, while Atlanta is a member of the second-tier North American Soccer League.
The Fire went ahead to stay in the 82nd minute when Larentowicz scored on a penalty kick. Larentowicz rolled the ball straight and goalkeeper Derby Carrillo guessed right for the easy score.
The Fire broke through for its first goal in the 49th minute. Amarikwa scored on a crossing pass following a free kick to give the Fire a 1-0 lead.
Atlanta drew even in the 54th minute on a breakaway. Midfielder Junior Sandoval took a pass down the left side and found Deon McCaulay as the forward broke through on the opposite side. McCaulay beat goalkeeper Sean Johnson into the right side of the net for the equalizer, his second career Open Cup goal.
After Larentowicz put the Fire on top, midfielder Alex added an insurance goal in the 84th minute.
Atlanta was the aggressor early in the game. Johnson made a nice save on a shot from point-blank range from Sandoval, then steered another shot from Sandoval wide a minute later.
The Fire pressed the attack 10 minutes into the game. Amarikwa beat two Atlanta defensemen on the dribble but could not get a shot past Carrillo.
Atlanta went back on the attack. Johnson saved a shot from the left side by midfielder Junior Burgos and tipped another shot by Burgos over the net. Johnson then plucked a corner kick from Burgos out of the air in the middle of the goal mouth.
Things got a little physical in the 31st minute. Fire forward Mike Magee kicked Atlanta midfielder Jesus Gonzalez, then both engaged in a simultaneous head butt that resulted in the ejection of each player. Three minutes later, Fire defender Matt Watson was shown a yellow card for kicking an opponent.
The Fire had a chance late in the half when midfielder Jeff Larentowicz flashed in front following a direct kick and headed a shot that was speared by Carrillo. Neither team had another legitimate opportunity as the half ended 0-0.
NOTES: The Silverbacks were playing without midfielder Borfor Carr and forwards Kwadwo Poku and Jaime Chavez, who were suspended following dismissals for a brawl in the team’s last game against the Colorado Rapids. Also suspended were Atlanta assistant coach Ricardo Montoya and technical director Eric Wynalda (a former Chicago player). … Two members of the Fire team celebrated homecomings. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson grew up in Lilburn and assistant coach Clint Mathis grew up in Conyers, both suburbs of Atlanta. … The Fire began the night having played only two previous games on turf, both 1-1 draws.