PORTLAND, Ore. – The Chicago Fire opened the 2015 Simple Invitational with a 0-0 draw against Stabaek IF Sunday at Providence Park, notching a third clean sheet defensively in as many preseason outings this month.
The Fire started each of their three Designated Players for the first time during the preseason, with Frank Yallop deploying a 4-2-3-1 formation to open the match. Kennedy Igboananike opened at forward with David Accam attacking on the left flank and Shaun Maloney pulling the strings from an advanced midfield position. The trio created a number of chances and were unlucky not to find the scoresheet.
Frank Yallop Postgame Media Session
"For whatever reason we were a little flat in the first half," Yallop said. "In two other games we played I thought we moved the ball more sharply and crisply. Obviously we hung in there, had some chances, didn't concede a goal. But it's the first game of the tournament, we traveled, I trained them hard, actually, the last five days. They looked a little bit leggy and a little bit slow going into this match and it showed."
After Igboananike fired a dangerous shot wide of frame to account for the Fire’s opening chance of the day, it was sophomore Harry Shipp who put the first shot on goal in the 21st minute. He took a pass at the side of the box, turned and fired toward the far corner. Stabaek goalkeeper Mande Sayouba was game for the challenge, diving to his left to parry the shot away.
Stabaek saw its best chance of the game in the 43rd minute. Birger Solberg Meling took a pass in the box with goalkeeper Jon Busch off his line, but the ensuing net-bound shot was headed away by Adailton.
Matt Watson nearly netted the game’s first goal in the 53rd minute. Lovel Palmer zipped a low cross to the near post and Watson had a read on the ball, but narrowly missed the connection as it skipped across the face of goal.
GK Jon Busch Reacts to 0-0 Draw with Stabaek
The Fire had their best look in the 69th minute with a flurry of chances. Palmer centered a pass that found Shaun Maloney, only to see his shot blocked by an onrushing Sayouba. A scramble for the ball led to another shot, this time from Razvan Cocis. His effort was deflected away to Quincy Amarikwa, who had a go from 10 yards out. However, a wall of Stabaek defenders were able to clear the shot off the line and out for a Fire corner.
Chicago had one final opportunity to break through after Eric Gehrig volleyed a pass from Alex into the path of Kingsley Bryce. The rookie uncorked a shot from inside the area, but a Stabaek defender stepped in front of the shot to end the threat.
Veteran Jon Busch played all 90 minutes in the goal for the Fire. Sean Johnson took the opportunity to continue returning to full health after a slight knock sustained in the Feb. 12 scrimmage at QPR.
The Men in Red will continue the 2015 Simple Invitational action on Wednesday, Feb. 25 against the host Timbers. Kickoff is 9:30 p.m. CT with livestreams available at www.chicago-fire.com and www.csnchicago.com.
2015 Simple Invitational
Chicago Fire 0:0 Stabaek IF
February 22, 2015 – Providence Park
CHI – Razvan Cocis (caution) 51
Chicago Fire: Jon Busch, Lovel Palmer (Eric Gehrig 86), Jeff Larentowicz, Adailton, Joevin Jones, Razvan Cocis (Kingsley Bryce 73), Matt Watson (Matt Polster 73), Harry Shipp (Guly do Prado 82), Shaun Maloney (Michael Stephens 73), David Accam (Quincy Amarikwa 62), Kennedy Igboananike (Alex 61).
Shots: 10; Shots On Goal: 5; Saves: 1; Fouls: 5; Corner Kicks: 6; Offsides: 4.
Stabaek IF: Mande Sayouba, Ville Jalasto (Daniel Granli 76), Morten Skjonsberg, Nicolai Naess, Birger Solberg Meling, Kamal Issah, Cole Grossman (Emil Ekblom 76), Giorgi Gorozia, David Estrada (Eirik Haugstad 85), Anders Trondsen, Luc Kassi (Cornelius Benscik 76).
Shots: 5; Shots On Goal: 1; Saves: 4; Fouls: 12; Corner Kicks: 1; Offsides: 2.