WEST DES MOINES, Iowa - Things turned ugly Friday night.
Unfortunately for the Ocean City Barons, they didn't respond well to the pressure.
The Chicago Fire beat the Barons 3-0 in the Premier Development League soccer national quarterfinals at Valley Stadium.
"It's a great achievement to get here regardless of what happened," Barons coach Neil Holloway said. "We're disappointed at the same time because everyone knows we didn't bring our (top) game."
Chicago (13-1-5 PDL, 14-2-5 overall) scored two late goals to cap the game. Five yellow cards and one red card were called.
"It's a big game," said Chicago's Seth Sinovic, who assisted on the first two goals. "Emotions were running high."
The Fire advance to play tonight against Cary (N.C.), a 1-0 winner against Des Moines on Friday.
The Barons (11-5-3 PDL, 13-6-3 overall) were unable to generate much offense despite getting off just as many shots on goal as Chicago. Both teams took eight shots. The Fire recorded their ninth shutout.
Seemingly nothing went right for the Barons. Byron Carmichael, their all-time leading scorer, did not score and picked up a yellow card. Ocean City's Junior Chapman got the red card near the end of the game.
"Chicago had a good game plan," Holloway said. "I don't think they were overly aggressive going forward, but when they did go forward, they had three or four chances that they were able to capitalize on."
The Fire started things in the 18th minute when Mark Blades kicked in a deflection off the near post on the left side. Sinovic was able to force the ball off Barons goalie Tunde Ogunbiyi on the play.
"We like to attack in numbers," Sinovic said. "Whenever we've struggled this year it's been when we've had only two or three guys up."
Freddie Braun added an insurance goal in the 66th minute when he headed in a cross from Sinovic. The Fire finished things when substitute Chris Gutshaw put in a booming shot from 30 yards.
The loss was a disappointing ending to a memorable Barons season, the most accomplished year in their history.
They qualified for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in May. The Barons then defeated Crystal Palace and Real Maryland, both of the professional United Soccer Leagues' Second Division, in the first two rounds.
Ocean City lost in the third round to Major League Soccer's D.C. United 2-0, but the Barons played aggressively and held D.C. scoreless through 74 minutes.
On July 26, the Barons upset the undefeated Ottawa Fury in the Premier Development League playoffs in double overtime to advance to the quarterfinals.
Chicago 1 2-3
Ocean City 0 0-0
Goals-Chicago, Blades (Sinovic), 18:00; Braun (Sinovic), 66:00; Gutshaw (unassisted), 76:00.
Saves-Chicago, Maurer 8; Ocean City, Ogunbiyi 5.
PDL records-Chicago 13-1-5, Ocean City 11-5-3.