Chris Rolfe
Chicago Fire Communications

Phase One Done

BRADENTON, Fla -- As in most preseason games, there were some good and bad moments for the Fire in their 2-1 defeat to Columbus Wednesday afternoon.

WATCH: Postgame Reaction

“It’s normal for preseason. I thought there were some good things in the game and obviously there are some things we need to continue to work on.”  

Playing against a strong wind in the first half, the Fire found it difficult to produce much going forward but did see midfielder Wells Thompson and defender Gonzalo Segares measure dangerous efforts on goal.

With the weather disadvantage, the Crew pressed most of the attack through the first half and took advantage of a quick restart from Federico Higuain that sent Eddie Gaven in alone on goal.

Trialing Fire ‘keeper Neal Kitson attempted to make the save but instead was whistled for a penalty kick on Gaven, which Higuain converted in the 21st minute.

With the wind at their backs in the second half, the Fire pushed forward more, seeing the likes of Dominic Oduro, Daniel Paladini and SuperDraft selection Yazid Atouba link up in the attack.

Still, the Crew would double their advantage in the 65th minute. Former Fire PDL product Ethan Finlay blazed up the right flank and took advantage of defender Hunter Jumper pulling up lame before crossing to find Surcan Guvinsik at the near post.

Jumper was immediately subbed from the match and was diagnosed with a strained right quadriceps injury.

The final 15 minutes saw the Fire begin to string things together. In the 80th minute, Paladini ran onto a through ball before powering his effort just wide left of goal.

Minutes later, Atouba built off his strong debut performance on Sunday, picking up a loose ball at midfield before blasting a left-footed effort inside the post just before the final whistle.
Despite the defeat, Klopas reiterated that this was just the team’s second match of preseason and there’s still time ahead.

“It’s the first phase of preseason so that’s expected,” he said. “There were a lot of heavy legs out there and we just seemed a little bit tired.  I think definitely being better at moving the ball and playing quicker could have been a lot better.

“We have to push through. Overall we feel good about what we accomplished here in Florida but now it’s on to the second phase and we have to push to be sharper.”