MONTREAL, Quebec – In front of a record-setting Montreal soccer crowd of 58,912, the Chicago Fire used Dominic Oduro’s 71st minute goal to earn a point on the road in the MLS Opening of Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec.
Opening their fourth MLS stadium in three years, the Men in Red began its 15th season as guests to MLS’ 19th team. Fire head coach Frank Klopas trotted out 10 of the Fire’s returning 11 starters from the 2011 team that finished 7-2-1. The notable exception in Klopas’ first kick XI was 23-year-old former Inter Milan youth goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi.
The Italian goalkeeper was first called into action in the 18th minute when Sanna Nyassi squared a ball to Justin Braun all alone just inside the penalty area. The Impact forward smashed a shot forcing Tornaghi to dive and palm the ball over the crossbar. After considerable back-and-forth, the first interval finished deadlocked 0-0.
The Impact crowd got what they’d been cheering for in the 56th minute when Sanna Nyassi tracked a ball at the edge of the 18-yard box. The Gambian forward chipped a looping cross that Montreal captain Davy Arnaud met mid-step and headed over the hand of an outstretched Tornaghi to give the Impact its first goal as an MLS side.
Trailing with 20 minutes left to play, and the partisan Impact crowd echoing throughout The Big O, the Fire found its equalizer. Patrick Nyarko picked up the ball on the left side before finding a seam and slotting a pass to Sebastian Grazzini. The Argentine playmaker, with his back to goal, turned and lofted a pass over the defense where Oduro did well to extend his boot and poke the ball past Impact ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts in the 71st minute.
In the waning moments of the match, Montreal nearly gave the raucous home fans their first victory. A loose ball bounced to the feet of Impact defender Josh Gardner who hammered a driven effort destined for the far post, but Tornaghi was equal to it, deflecting the shot to ricochet off the far post seconds before the final whistle sounded.
The Fire host Opening Night 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.
- Dominic Oduro, who tallied 12 goals in 2011, scored his first goal of the 2012 season and 28thall-time.
- 2011 assist leader Patrick Nyarko started the 2012 campaign off on the right foot. The crafty Ghanaian had 10 and 9 assists in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
- In his 12th appearance for the Fire, Sebastian Grazzini continues to contribute. The Fire midfielder has 5 goals and 5 assists since joining the club in late July of 2011.
- Paolo Tornaghi, who returned to Italy to obtain his Visa at the beginning of the week, got the starting nod in goal for the Fire.
- Federico Puppo made his Fire MLS debut as a substitute in the in the 62nd minute.
- Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson was unavailable for selection as he is with the U.S. Men’s U-23 National Team in Nashville preparing for CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiers.
- Logan Pause appeared in his 228 match as a Fire player.
- MLS SuperDraft selection Hunter Jumper appeared in his first MLS match, coming on for Gonzalo Segares in the 68th minute.
Chicago Fire 1 – 1 Montreal Impact
Chicago Fire: Paolo Tornaghi; Dan Gargan, Jalil Anibaba, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares (Hunter Jumper, 68’); Marco Pappa (Federico Puppo, 62’), Pavel Pardo, Logan Pause ©; Sebastian Grazzini (Daniel Paladini, 79’); Dominic Oduro, Patrick Nyarko
Substitutes not used: Jay Nolly, Corben Bone, Rafael Robayo, Orr Barouch
Montreal Impact: Donovan Ricketts; Jeb Brovsky, Mateo Ferrari, Tyson Wahl, Josh Gardner; Davy Arnaud, Felipe Martins, Patrice Bernier (Lamar Neagle, 82’), Justin Mapp (Andrew Wenger, 68’); Sanna Nyassi, Justin Braun (Bernardo Corradi, 77’)
Substitutes not used: Greg Sutton, Callum Mallace, Shavar Thomas, Collen Warner
MTL – Davy Arnaud (Sanna Nyassi) 56’
MTL – Davy Arnaud (Sanna Nyassi) 56’
CHI – Dominic Oduro (Sebastian Grazzini, Patrick Nyarko) 71’
CHI – Sebastian Grazzini (caution) 42’
MTL – Lamar Neagle (caution) 84’
CHI – Pavel Pardo (caution) 87’
MTL – Sanna Nyassi (caution) 89’
Referee: Kevin Stott
Assistants: Adam Wienckowski, Bill Dittmar
Fourth Official: Geoff Gamble