Fire Welcome Mexican Champions Club Santos Laguna To Toyota Park

A look at the week ahead for the Men In Red

Santos Laguna

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FIRE TAKE BREAK IN MLS ACTION TO HOST MEXICAN CHAMPIONS CLUB SANTOS LAGUNA AT TOYOTA PARK
The Chicago Fire (13-8-5; 44 points) take a break from MLS play to welcome four-time Mexican Primera División champions, Club Santos Laguna to Toyota Park for an international friendly on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m. CT.
 
Reigning Clausura Champions Santos Laguna have captured four titles in Mexico’s Primera División, most recently defeating Monterey 3-2 on aggregate to capture the 2012 Clausura tournament. Santos Laguna has experienced success in the CONCACAF region as well. The Albiverdes placed second in the 2011/12 CONCACAF Champions League. Santos Laguna were also crowned champions of the inaugural 2004 InterLiga tournament, the tournament between Mexican clubs to determine qualifying spots for the Copa Libertadores.
 
Tickets for the first meeting between the Chicago Fire and Santos Laguna are available by calling 888-MLS-Fire or by visiting www.chicago-fire.com. The international friendly will serve as Bonus Game 2 in the Fire Season Ticket and Ten Game packages.
 
This is the second consecutive year that the Fire will welcome a Mexican opponent to Toyota Park. In 2011, the Fire took on Chivas de Guadalajara in front of a crowd of more than 18,000. A 61st minute goal by Jorge Mora would prove the difference as Chivas de Guadalajara escaped with a 1-0 victory.
 
This is the second international friendly scheduled for the Fire this season. The Men in Red hosted English Premier League side Aston Villa on Saturday, July 21. Gabriel Agbonlahor scored the only goal of the match in the 29th minute as Aston Villa escaped with a 1-0 victory.
 
The Men in Red return to MLS play when they head north to take on Toronto FC (5-16-6; 21 points) at BMO Field on Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 6:00 p.m. CT (NBC 5.2/97.5 ESPN Deportes).
 
CHICAGO FIRE TRAINING SCHEDULE: Sept. 3 – Sept. 10
 
Monday, Sept. 3: Off
Tuesday, Sept. 4: Off           
Wednesday, Sept. 5: Training 9:30 a.m.*^ - Toyota Park Stadium Field         
Thursday, Sept. 6: Training 9:30 a.m.*^              
Friday, Sept. 7: Training 9:30 a.m.*^
Saturday, Sept. 8: Chicago Fire vs. Santos Laguna - Toyota Park - 7:30 p.m. CT
Sunday, Sept. 9: Off
Monday, Sept. 10: Training 9:30 a.m.*^
 
*Training is open to the media. Fire players and coaches will be made available immediately following training.
^Training times are subject to change. Please contact Brendan Hannan at 720.937.8962 for media requests.
 
CHICAGO FIRE vs. Santos Laguna

  • The Fire are 6-11-3 all-time in international friendlies since 1998. The Fire have played 20 friendlies against teams from Mexico, England, Italy, Germany, France, Scotland and Poland.
  • The Fire are 1-6-1 all-time in friendly matches against Mexican opposition. Most recently the Fire fell 1-0 to Chivas de Guadalajara on Sept. 14, 2011 at Toyota Park.

EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF RACE
With only six points separating the Fire from Eastern Conference-leading Sporting Kansas City, the next few months will be crucial for the Fire's bid to make the 2012 MLS post-season.
 
With the victory against the Houston Dynamo, the Men in Red jumped into sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference. The Fire are 8-3-2 with 26 points since June 17.
 
The Fire play four of the remaining eight matches at Toyota Park, where the team has a dominating 9-2-2 record against visiting teams this season.
 
All of the remaining games on the schedule are against Eastern Conference foes. The Men in Red have played one less game than Sporting Kansas City (50 points) and the New York Red Bulls (46 points), the two teams that currently sit ahead of the Fire in the standings.
 
TWO FIRE PLAYERS CALLED UP FOR INTERNATIONAL DUTY
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced Sunday that goalkeeper Sean Johnson (United States) and forward Orr Barouch (Israel U-21) have been called up by their respective national teams. Johnson has been called up by U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann for the United States' 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match against Jamaica on Friday, Sept. 7 at National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica at 7:00 p.m. CT (beIN SPORT). Barouch will join the Israeli U-21 National Team for a training camp in Austria from Sept. 3 – Sept. 12.
 
Johnson reports to camp in Miami, Fla. on Monday, Sept. 3.
 
Johnson, 23, made his international debut on Jan. 22, 2011 against Chile at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Johnson has been capped twice for the United States and was recently named to the travel roster for the international friendly against Mexico at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City Aug. 15.
 
Johnson has appeared in 22 games for the Men in Red this season, accumulating a 11-7-4 record, including 4 shutouts. Johnson has made 78 saves thus far in 2012, including a career-high ten saves against the San Jose Earthquakes on July 28.
 
Born in Haifa, Israel, Barouch has represented Israel at the U-21 level five times, scoring twice. This season Barouch has appeared in nine games for the Men in Red, starting in the Fire’s June 2 match against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
 
Barouch will miss the Chicago Fire vs. Santos Laguna international friendly at Toyota Park on Sept. 8 and the Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC match at BMO Field on Sept. 12 while on international duty.
 
Johnson will return to Chicago on Saturday, Sept. 8 in advance of the Chicago Fire – Santos Laguna match at Toyota Park set for 7:30 p.m. CT. Barouch will return to Chicago Thursday, Sept. 13.
 
CHICAGO FIRE ZOOM PAST HOUSTON DYNAMO 3-1
The Chicago Fire got first half goals from Patrick Nyarko and Daniel Paladini before a late strike from Alex gave the side a 3-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo Sunday night at Toyota Park. With the win, the Fire move into sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference.
 
The Fire didn’t even waste a minute in getting on the score board when Patrick Nyarko intercepted an errant pass at midfield from Houston’s Andre Hainault. The speedy Ghanaian strolled untouched towards goal and tucked his effort past Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall and inside the left post to give the Fire a 1-0 lead 47 seconds into the match.
 
Houston thought they found the equalizer 12 minutes later when Hainault’s cross from the right was deflected by Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson. The ball bounced up and hit the arm of onrushing Dynamo forward Macoumba Kandji before going over the goal line, forcing referee David Gantar to call the goal back due to a hand ball.
 
The Fire would double their lead in the 19th minute when Alvaro Fernandez dispossessed Ricardo Clark at midfield. The Uruguayan international drove toward the box before laying off for Sherjill MacDonald on the right. The Dutch striker held the ball before chipping for the onrushing Daniel Paladini who buried his first time effort past Hall from close range.
 
Chris Rolfe got in on the action in the 33rd minute, combining with Paladini just outside the box before unleashing a low, driven shot that forced Hall into a diving stop to take the Fire into the half up 2-0.
 
The Fire nearly closed the game out in the 84th minute when Pavel Pardo’s clearance out of the back found second half substitute Dominic Oduro in stride. The former Dynamo striker pushed the ball past Ashe before crossing for Fernandez but the Uruguayan pushed his effort just wide right of Hall’s goal.
 
The Dynamo continued to threaten late and came close again in the 89th minute when Davis’ free kick was punched away by Johnson. Houston retained possession though and Bobby Boswell’s chip into the box fell for Watson but his first-time effort from close range was once again thwarted with a diving save by Johnson.
 
Houston would find their goal on the ensuing corner kick when Davis found Brian Ching whose diving header squeaked inside the right post to take the game to 2-1 in the 90th minute.
 
With the Dynamo looking for the equalizer, the Fire would catch their Eastern Conference foes out with the last kick of the game. Jalil Anibaba’s clearance out of the back was fumbled by Dynamo defender Kofi Sarkodie, allowing Oduro to pounce and lay off for second half substitute Alex. The Brazilian attacker collected and unleashed a left-footed rocket that hit the right post before crossing the goal line in the 93rd minute, giving the Fire a 3-1 victory.
 
FIRE IN THE NEWS
 
Berry's play merits rookie of the year talk - Jack McCarthy - Chicago Tribune - September 1, 2012
http://www.chicagotribune.com/site/newspaper/sports/ct-spt-0902-fire-berry-chicago--20120902,0,908109.story
 
With all the departures, Fire’s more dependent on Patrick Nyarko to create - Seth Gruen - Chicago Sun-Times - September 1, 2012
http://www.suntimes.com/sports/soccer/fire/14856410-626/with-all-the-departures-fires-more-dependent-on-patrick-nyarko-to-create.html
 
Fast start part of big day for Fire - Jack McCarthy - Chicago Tribune - September 2, 2012
http://www.chicagotribune.com/site/newspaper/sports/ct-spt-0903-fire-dynamo-chicago--20120903,0,6352187.story
 
Marco Pappa se marcha con Marco van Basten - Jose Luis Sanchez Pando - Hoy - August 30, 2012
http://www.vivelohoy.com/deportes/8128338/marco-pappa-se-marcha-con-marco-van-basten
 
Best XI underrated players in MLS - Alecko Eskandarian - SI.com - August 29, 2012
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/alecko_eskandarian/08/29/underrated-players/index.html?sct=sc_t11_a0
 
Pineda eying bright U-20 future - John Kretlow - Yanks-Abroad.com - August 29, 2012
http://www.yanks-abroad.com/content.php?mode=show&id=9392
 
CHICAGO FIRE TEAM WRITER, JEFF CRANDALL FEATURES ON CHICAGO-FIRE.COM
 
Sean Johnson Talks USMNT Call-Up Against Jamaica - September 2, 2012
http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2012/09/sean-johnson-talks-usmnt-call-against-jamaica
 
Five Things You Should Know About Sunday's Game vs. Houston - September 2, 2012
http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2012/09/five-things-you-should-know-about-sundays-game-vs-houston
 
Fire Locker Room Reacts to Pappa Transfer - August 30, 2012
http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2012/08/fire-locker-room-reacts-pappa-transfer
 
All-In Podcast with Gonzalo Segares - August 30, 2012
http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2012/08/all-podcast-gonzalo-segares