The Fire had to win Tuesday afternoon's U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal.
The Open Cup just means more to the Fire than it does to the New York Red Bulls, and it showed even before the teams took the field for the Fire's 4-0 victory at Toyota Park in Bridgeview.
"We wanted to do good in this tournament," said substitute forward Orr Barouch, who scored twice in the second half. "We have two more games, and then we can lift the Cup up."
The Red Bulls brought just 14 players and tested their team depth with the players who did make the trip.
The Fire, which hasn't won a championship since the 2006 Open Cup, offered nearly the same lineup that started Saturday's MLS match at Los Angeles. To lose to New York's reserves would have been a big blow to the team's confidence.
"Everyone knew the importance of this game for us and what the goal is," technical director/interim coach Frank Klopas said.
The lineup differences reflected the teams' different league fortunes. The Red Bulls sit atop the Eastern Conference standings and preferred to rest its first-team players for MLS play. The Fire is seventh, 10 points back, and has found goals tough to come by.
"It's all about confidence," forward Dominic Oduro said. "I think this win is more like a paving thing for us. I think it's good for the team. Everybody's excited, everybody's motivated and we're ready to go on Saturday."
Oduro got the scoring started in the seventh minute. Yamith Cuesta's header off a Daniel Paladini cross made it 2-0 in the 48th, and three minutes later Barouch's shot deflected off a defender and into goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul's net. Barouch made it 4-0 in the 69th minute off a Diego Chaves assist.
"It's good for certain guys to score goals, but more than anything to be able to finish games and not give much away," Klopas added. "That's a positive, for sure."
It's likely to be a busy week for the Fire, which hosts the Portland Timbers on Saturday night. The club also is expected to add playmaking midfielder Sebastian Grazzini to the roster.
"We'll be making an announcement pretty soon on a player," Klopas said.
Time for a change:
Tuesday's game, originally slated for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, started at 5 p.m. because Toyota Park suffered a power outage after Monday's storm. Power was restored at 3:30.