CHARLESTON, S.C. (Feb 25, 2012) – The Chicago Fire had numerous chances throughout the match but couldn’t find the back of the net around a 66th minute Hamdi Salahi strike as the Men in Red fell 1-0 to D.C. United in the 2012 Carolina Challenge Cup opener at Blackbaud Stadium Saturday night in Charleston, S.C.
The Fire looked likely to take the lead early when Patrick Nyarko made a penetrating run into the box from the left before being hauled down by United defender Dejan Jakovic in the fourth minute. Referee Jose Carlos Rivero pointed straight to the penalty spot. Veteran midfielder Pavel Pardo stepped up but his attempt to the lower left corner was well saved by sprawling D.C. ‘keeper Joe Willis.
Frank Klopas’ side played the aggressor the whole of the first interval. Pardo (PICTURED BELOW) nearly opened the scoring in the 31st minute when he curled a free kick attempt from 25-yards out around the United wall to the same left corner where again Willis dove to keep things level heading into halftime.
Causing constant havoc with his speed all night, Ghanaian striker Dominic Oduro got in on the action in the 57th minute when he drove down the left flank before unleashing a belting shot that beat Willis but came off the underside of the woodwork and bounced clear of the goal line before being cleared away by United.
United absorbed the pressure and finally took advantage of the missed opportunities nine minutes later when Designated Player Hamid Salihi was slipped up the right before powering a blast that Fire ‘keeper Jay Nolly got a hand to before hitting the back of the net. Despite a few furious opportunities from the Fire at the end, the 66th minute strike stood as the game winner.
The Fire play their second match of the 2012 Carolina Challenge Cup Wednesday, February 29 when they take on the Columbus Crew at 4:00 PM CT. Fans can watch the match live via Chicago-Fire.com or follow @ChiFireMatch on Twitter.
The Fire host Opening Day at Toyota Park against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, March 24 at 7:30 PM CT. Chicago Fire Season Tickets are available by calling 1-888-MLS-FIRE (657-3473), via Ticketmaster or by heading to the club’s official website at Chicago-Fire.com.
Midfielder Sebastian Grazzini (sickness) and defender Cory Gibbs (injury) were unavailable for selection Saturday night.
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson (U.S. U-23), midfielders Marco Pappa (Guatemala) and Victor Pineda (U.S. U-20) and forward Orr Barouch (Israel U-21) were away on international duty and also unavailable for selection Saturday night.
Chicago Fire 0 – 1 D.C. United
Chicago Fire: Jay Nolly; Dan Gargan (Tony Walls* 82’), Jalil Anibaba, Austin Berry (Kwame Watson-Siriboe 61’), Gonzalo Segares (Hunter Jumper* 75’); Logan Pause (C), Pavel Pardo, Rafael Robayo (Corben Bone 75’); Daniel Paladini (Michael Videira 82’); Patrick Nyarko (Federico Puppo 32’), Dominic Oduro (Kheli Dube 75’)
* - MLS SuperDraft/Supplemental Draft selection
** - Trialist
D.C. United: Joe Willis; Robbie Russell (Chris Kord 78'), Brandon McDonald (Ethan White 46'), Dejan Jakovic (Emiliano Dudar 46'), Daniel Woolard (Guilherme [trialist 75']); Andy Najar (Danny Cruz 78'), Stephen King (Ryan Richter [trialist] 88'), Marcelo Saragosa (Lance Rozeboom 46'), Chris Pontius (Nick DeLeon 71'); Dwayne DeRosario (Conor Shanosky 58'), Hamdi Salihi (Maicon Santos 68')
DC – Hamdi Salihi (Ethan White) 66’
DC – Marcelo Saragosa (caution) 30’
CHI – Dan Gargan (caution) 33’
DC – Emiliano Dudar (caution) 50’
CHI – Rafael Robayo (caution) 52’
CHI – Jalil Anibaba (caution) 77’