Atlanta United came out on the front foot in the opening minutes as they peppered Chicago’s backline with crosses and opportunities, the best of which came in the 7th minute as Mikey Ambrose glided past a defender and forced a save out of keeper Richard Sanchez.
Their good start almost came to nothing in the 17th minute when Bastian Schweinsteiger’s shot to the right of the goal was just barely kept out by Kann, who came up big on multiple occasions in the first half.
Atlanta tried to break the deadlock through Tito Villalba in the 31st, but his shot to complete a counterattack was saved once again by Sanchez. This was the last major development of a stagnant first half that ended 0-0.
The breakthrough finally came in the second half, just not for the good guys. The Fire completely unlocked Atlanta in the 54th minute, starting with a slick through ball from Schweinsteiger to get Luis Solignac open in the box. He found Nikolic all alone on the far post for an easy tap-in.
Villalba fooled most of the crowd in the 62nd minute as his attempt appeared to enter the goal, but it rippled the side netting for a simple goal kick. Tata Martino immediately subbed on both Ezequiel Barco and Julian Gressel.
Villalba came up close yet again just a few minutes later, but his deflected shot hit the post in the 72nd minute.
Chicago nearly doubled their lead in the 78th after a tackle on Barco in Atlanta’s half led to a 4-v-2 opportunity, but Johan Kappelhof couldn’t take advantage.
Atlanta had two attempts on goal in the last four minutes of the match, but neither Barco nor Villalba could convert.
In the end, the Fire held on to eliminate Atlanta from the cup competition. The Five Stripes will have to move on quickly, as they return to league action on Sunday in a matchup against the Portland Timbers.
It’s not all bad news though. Congrats to the faithful fans on breaking yet another attendance record.
It’s official. Attendance: 41,012.— Dirty South Soccer (@DirtySouthSoc) June 21, 2018
The new record for a US Open Cup match. Well done, y’all.