CDLC Happy With Result
The Chicago Fire made a splash in their debut match at the
2011 Carolina Challenge Cup Saturday night, taking a 1-0 victory against
Toronto FC even after captain Logan Pause was sent off for a controversial
tackle in the 36th minute.
Things got started early on when Uruguayan Gaston Puerari
penetrated into the box on the right, sending a ball across the box to draftee
Davis Paul. The Cal product cut the ball back for Marco Pappa whose powered
effort took a deflection before beating Reds keeper Stefan Frei in the sixth
minute of play. It was the Guatemalan international's third goal in four preseason matches.
The Fire continued to apply pressure against a Toronto side
with only 15 signed players, with a lot of work coming down the left side in
combinations between Pappa and Paul but things changed on a dime in the 36th
minute when Pause went in late on Toronto midfielder Oscar Cardon in the middle
of the park. The referee immediately showed the nine-year Fire veteran a
straight red card, leaving the Fire to play with 10 men the rest of the way.
In response, Carlos de los Cobos made an immediate change,
bringing in new Croatian signing Marko Maric for Puerari, leaving fellow
Uruguayan striker Diego Chaves alone up top. It was an unfortunate circumstance
for the Fire’s Mexican manager who has still yet to see the expected starting
strikers together for a collective 90 minutes.
“I think the two played well for the time they had on the
field tonight,” said de los Cobos. “They had a few good combinations with each
other but they need to play together more. Gaston is getting his rhythm, every
day he’s better and Diego too. I
think the two will help us have a successful season.”
The Fire made it to halftime with a 1-0 lead but given the
disadvantage, it was mostly one-way traffic for Toronto FC, who dominated
possession in the second half but could only muster one effort on goal, a 79th
minute strike from Maicon Santos.
De los Cobos’ side did well to hang on to the 1-0 advantage,
earning three points and boosting morale.
“Victories always strengthen your confidence – in the
players, in each other, in the way we’re playing because we’re playing a
different way than before in the 3-5-2,” he said. “We can show its not
necessarily the system but the most important thing is that the players are
understanding what I want from them collectively. Winning under the
circumstances we were in is good and helps grow our confidence.”
Next up for the Fire is a Wednesday date with DC United, who
used goals from Chris Pontius and Joseph Ngwenya to beat hosts Charleston Battery
2-1 in the tournament’s second match Saturday. Kickoff is set for 4pm CT and
the match can be viewed LIVE via Chicago-Fire.com.
Jeff Crandall is the
Team Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter @JefeCrandall.