CHARLESTON, S.C. (Feb 29, 2012) – Missing six players due to international absences, the Chicago Fire battled throughout, using an 80th minute strike from Federico Puppo to grind out a 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew Wednesday night at Blackbaud Stadium in Game Two of the 2012 Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, S.C.
Puppo nearly put the Fire ahead in the 20th minute as Kheli Dube slotted him through on Andy Gruenebaum’s goal but the Crew ‘keeper charged off his line to divert the shot away from frame.
Trialing Fire goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi found some magic of his own 16 minutes later when Crew defender Sebastian Miranda broke through and fired a low blast that the Italian netminder turned away to take the sides into the break level.
With back and forth play for much of the early second half, the Fire began to put their stamp on the match beginning in the 72nd minute when Dan Gargan slid Daniel Paladini up the right flank. The Fire midfielder cut into the box and charged towards the end line before trying an acute effort that Gruenebaum deflected wide.
The lone goal of the match came 10 minutes from time when Paladini played a measured ball to Fire defender Gonzalo Segares on the left flank before sending a cross into the area. The deflected cross fell to Puppo, who pounced on the opportunity before rifling a shot just over Gruenebaum to secure a 1-0 Fire victory.
The Fire close out the 2012 Carolina Challenge Cup Saturday, March 3 when they take on hosts Charleston Battery at 6:15pm 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.
Federico Puppo’s 80th minute goal is his first of Fire preseason.
Midfielders Pavel Pardo and Sebastian Grazzini and defenders Cory Gibbs and Austin Berry were unavailable for selection Wednesday night
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson (U.S. U-23), midfielders Marco Pappa (Guatemala) and Victor Pineda (U.S. U-20) and forwards Orr Barouch (Israel U-21), Dominic Oduro and Patrick Nyarko (Ghana) were away on international duty and also unavailable for selection Wednesday night.
Chicago Fire 1 – 0 Columbus Crew
Chicago Fire: Paolo Tornaghi**; Dan Gargan (Tony Walls* 79’), Jalil Anibaba, Hunter Jumper*, Gonzalo Segares; Rafael Robayo (Michael Videira 84’), Amadou Sanyang** (Corben Bone 46’), Logan Pause © (Pari Pantazopoulos 90’); Daniel Paladini; Kheli Dube (Lucky Mkosana* 79’), Federico Puppo
Substitutes not used: Jay Nolly, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Kellen Gulley
* - MLS SuperDraft/Supplemental Draft selection
** - Trialist
Columbus Crew: Andy Gruenebaum; Sebastian Miranda (Josh Williams 46’), Danny O’Rourke (Korey Veeder 82’), Chad Marshall (Eric Gehrig 46’), Nemanja Vukovic** (Aaron Horton 73’); Eddie Gaven (Shaun Francis 46’), Tony Tchani (Kirk Urso 82’), Stephane Auvray** (Kevan George 64’), Milovan Mirosevic (Olman Vargas 46’), Ethan Finlay; Emilio Renteria (Tommy Heinemann 46’)
Substitutes not used: Matt Lampson, Carlos Mendes
CHI – Federico Puppo (unassisted) 80’
CHI – Amadou Sanyang (caution) 38’
CLB – Tony Tchani (caution) 73’
CHI – Gonzalo Segares (caution) 75’