Santos goal earns penalty redemption in Challenge Cup finale

Maicon's smash vs. Vancouver a welcome one in 1-1 tournament clincher

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- While Maicon Santos’ 57th minute rocket from the top of the box Saturday night would be the goal that sealed the 2013 Carolina Challenge Cup for the Fire, it also served as a bit of redemption for a missed opportunity.

HIGHLIGHTS: Fire 1, Whitecaps 1 (2/23/2013)

 

In last Saturday’s 3-2 win over Houston, the Brazilian forward had the chance to ice the match after Yazid Atouba drew a penalty kick towards the end of the game.

Looking to impress after being unable to practice due to injury in the team’s California stint, Santos confidently stepped up before seeing his low effort well saved by Dynamo ‘keeper Tally Hall.

When Chris Rolfe served up a second opportunity Saturday night, Santos made no mistake, smashing the go-ahead goal off the underside of the cross bar to give the team a 1-0 lead. 

The goal was the first the Brazilian forward had scored in a Fire shirt and came on the heels of him missing out on the team's California training stint due to injury.

“[Scoring the goal] was a good feeling,” he told Chicago-Fire.com post-game. “After missing the penalty in your first game back -- I felt like I redeemed myself a little bit, it was pretty nice to get the goal and help the team win this tournament.”

The goal followed up a first half in which the Fire saw go-ahead chances from Rolfe, Sherjill MacDonald and Dilly Duka all well saved by Whitecaps ‘keeper Joe Cannon.

The Fire’s lead didn’t last long though as Whitecaps forward Kenny Miller was judged to have been fouled right on the edge of the penalty area, leading referee Fotis Bazakos to point to the spot.

Jamaican international Darren Mattocks sent Sean Johnson the wrong way to equalize but the Fire held on in the final 23 minutes to earn the required 1-1 draw to clinch the 2013 Carolina Challenge Cup and end the team’s preseason campaign with an overall 4-1-2 record.

Though its only preseason, Fire head coach Frank Klopas said winning a trophy is still a positive.

“Every game is important,” he told Chicago-Fire.com “Every game you play you want to win and these are habits you try to create.

"Obviously we need to keep working on certain aspects of the game but I was very pleased. We were able to push some guys, get some guys in and I feel that everyone’s ready and in good form to start the season.”

“I think we pushed some guys the way we wanted to and it’s a start. Hopefully at the end of the season we can lift another trophy.”