The Chicago Fire wrapped its preseason camp with a scoreless draw against the Charleston Battery in its final tune-up before its First Kick match against Brimstone Cup rivals FC Dallas on Saturday, March 19 at 7:30 p.m. CT (CSN). Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos utilized the final match of the Carolina Challenge Cup to evaluate final roster decisions ahead of the club’s 2011 season debut.
With a youthful lineup on display, the Fire held the bulk of possession for the first 30 minutes of play. The trio of Corben Bone, Daniel Paladini and Davis Paul were spry from the first whistle distributing the ball well throughout the midfield.
The Fire’s first chance of the match came in the 12th minute when Uruguayan forward Gaston Puerari broke down the left side and into the Battery area before knocking the ball out of play.
A relatively friendly match turned chippy in the 31st minute when Battery midfielder Stephen Armstrong caught Puerari with an elbow as the Uruguayan pursued the ball. Armstrong was shown a straight red for his effort, putting the Fire up a man for the first time during the preseason camp.
Moments later, in the 34th minute, Battery defender Mike Wiltzee was giving his marching orders for a clumsy challenge on Pari Pantazopolous and an extra-curricular interaction with Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko.
To cap off a frenzied eight minutes of play, Fire defender Michael Videira was issued a second yellow and subsequent red card, leaving the Fire with only ten men for the third consecutive preseason match.
Playing 10 versus nine, the Fire pushed forward to take the lead. In the 55th minute, Paul looped a ball into the area nearly finding a sliding Puerari in front of goal. The ball skipped over Puerari and Nyarko’s follow-up effort to tumble the ball over the line was captured by former Fire ‘keeper Andrew Dykstra.
Sean Johnson earned his second clean sheet of the Carolina Challenge Cup, notching seven saves. In 360 minutes of play in Charleston, the Men in Red only conceded one goal.
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Michael Videira, Pari Pantazapolous (Michael Muniz 69’); Patrick Nyarko, Daniel Paladini, Corben Bone (Dasan Robinson 46’), Davis Paul, Gonzalo Segares; Gaston Puerari, Orr Barouch (Gabriel Ferrari 46’)
Charleston Battery: Keith Wiggans (Andrew Dykstra 46’); Mike Zaher, John Wilson (Alex Casky 46’), Nigel Marples, Mark Wiltzee; Stephen Armstrong, Evan Taylor (Guittermo Reis 59’), Kevin Jackson (Sean Flatley 46’), Zach Prince (Dane Kelly 60’); Seedy Baugh (Jose Cuevas 60’), Levi Coleman (J.C. Mack 60’)
CHA – Stephen Armstrong (ejection) 31’
CHI – Daniel Paladini (caution) 31’
CHI – Mike Videira (caution) 32’
CHA – Mark Wiltzee (ejection) 34’
CHI – Michael Videira (caution, ejection) 39’