That Chicago Fire team that couldn't find a goal the first couple of months of this season is gone.
In its place is a new-look Fire squad that walloped Orlando City SC 5-1 on Wednesday night in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal at Toyota Park.
But if the Fire is going to keep up these high-scoring ways, it's going to need continued contributions from forward Chris Rolfe, who found the net twice Wednesday. Rolfe has just 1 goal in 15 MLS games but 3 in USOC play this season.
"Confidence goes a long way for any player on the field," coach Frank Klopas said, hoping Rolfe can get on a roll. "Every time he's on the field he gives everything for the team, but when you do score a couple of goals it helps for your confidence.
"But when you don't do that I think he's been the guy that I think he finds ways that makes an impact on the team. He's been creating chances, and it was great for him to score a couple of goals. Both goals were fantastic."
The Fire had been riding the hot hand of new forward Mike Magee, who scored again Wednesday for the seventh time in seven matches in a Fire kit as the Men in Red remained unbeaten in their last eight matches. But it will really help the Fire if Rolfe can start scoring also.
"All I can do is keep playing," Rolfe said.
Orlando City tied the game at 1-1 in the 51st minute, but Patrick Nyarko showed a lot of skill to break the tie in the 59th. Rolfe followed with his second goal of the game in the 64th, Magee continued his scoring streak in the 83rd, and Joel Lindpere piled on in extra time. By that time Orlando City, a USL-PRO team hoping to join MLS, was down to nine players due to two red cards.
But the result might have been much different if Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson hadn't made a few clutch saves when the Lions had momentum early in the second half. He finished with 6 saves.
"Sean came up huge for us tonight," Rolfe said of Johnson, who could be named Thursday to the U.S. national team for the upcoming Gold Cup, forcing him to miss most of the Fire's July schedule.
"As a goalkeeper at the end of the day you just want to keep your team in it," Johnson said. "That's what I did tonight. We've had a lot of games in a short amount of time with heavy legs. To make it through this game and get a result is huge. Whatever I could do tonight to help the team win is what I did tonight."
The Fire will host D.C. United on Aug. 7 in the Open Cup semifinals.
"The good thing is that we're home," Klopas said. "I think that's the matchup we wanted. D.C. is a very good team regardless of how they started the season."
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