The Weekly

Fire looking to finish Carolina Challenge Cup strong

With a week of preseason remaining and two matches left in the Carolina Challenge Cup the Chicago Fire have set its sights on capturing the tournament trophy while keeping a steady focus on the team’s First Kick match against Brimstone Cup rivals FC Dallas.

The Men in Red close out their inaugural foray in Charleston with a midweek battle against Eastern Conference adversary D.C. United on Wednesday, March 9 at 4 PM CT, before concluding the 2011 preseason camp with a match against host side Charleston Battery on Saturday, March 12 at 6:15 PM CT. Both matches will be streamed live on Chicago-Fire.com with commentary from Battery President Andrew Bell and the Fire’s own Jeff Crandall.

Carlos de los Cobos’ side was strong in its first match of the Carolina Challenge Cup. Pressing from the get-go, the Fire took the lead over Toronto FC when Uruguayan forward Gaston Puerari combined with MLS SuperDraft pick Davis Paul to set up Marco Pappa in the 6th minute. Pappa tallied his third goal of the preseason camp. The Fire displayed a healthy resolve, withstanding a strong second half from TFC, playing a man down, after Fire captain Logan Pause was sent off for a hard challenge on Toronto midfielder Oscar Cordon.

The Fire followed up Saturday night’s match with a Sunday afternoon scrimmage against UNC-Greensboro at Charleston Southern University. De los Cobos used the opportunity to give time to trialing players in addition to some first choice Fire players who played fewer than 45 minutes on Saturday evening. Former Sampdoria forward Gabriel Ferrari tallied the lone goal on an assist from Patrick Nyarko as the Fire trumped UNC-Greensboro 1-0.

The additions of goalkeeper Alec Dufty and Croatian midfielder Marko Maric bring the Fire’s signed players to 23. Seven trialists and one MLS SuperDraft selection will remain in camp until the team returns to Chicago at week’s end. De los Cobos will utilize the final week of preseason training to evaluate each player before trimming the roster ahead of the Fire’s match against MLS Cup runners-up FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park on Saturday, March 19 at 7:30 PM CT (TeleFutura).

CHICAGO FIRE WEEKLY TRAINING SCHEDULE:

March 7 – March 13

Chicago Fire players and coaches will be made available to media at Charleston Southern University (9200 University Blvd., Charleston, SC 29406) following each training session this week. Media are able to begin conducting interviews after training, which runs approximately two hours. (All times Eastern)

Tuesday, March 8: Training 10:00 – 12:00 – OPEN TO MEDIA*^

Wednesday, March 9: Chicago Fire vs. D.C. United – Blackbaud Stadium – 5 PM*

Thursday, March 10: Training 9 AM / 4 PM – OPEN TO MEDIA*^

Friday, March 11: Training 10:00 – 12:00 – OPEN TO MEDIA*^

Saturday, March 12: Chicago Fire vs. Charleston Battery – Blackbaud Stadium – 7:15 PM*

Sunday, March 13: return to Chicago 

*Training is open to the media. Fire players and coaches will be made available immediately following training, which runs approximately two hours.

^Training times are subject to change. Please contact Brendan Hannan at 708.496.6725 for media requests.

FIRE ACADEMY U18S CAPTURE CAROLINA CHALLENGE ACADEMY CUP

After a lengthy 17-hour bus ride to join the Fire first team in Charleston, S.C. Friday morning, the Fire Academy 18s saw its travel efforts payoff 48 hours later, defeating D.C. United 2-1 to capture the Carolina Challenge Academy Cup on Sunday.

The U18 side jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Victor Pineda and Patrick Doody before Iyassu Bekele pulled one back for D.C. United.

The Fire’s U16 team fell 3-1 to D.C United in the U16 final earlier that morning. Elliot Borge tallied in the 4th minute, but United scored the next three goals to out-pace the Fire 3-1 on the day.

Both Fire Academy teams will remain in Charleston with the first team before departing back to Chicago on Wednesday.