PORTLAND, Ore. (Feb. 21, 2016) – The Chicago Fire rallied for a 3-2 win against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Sunday in the opening game of the 2016 Simple Invitational.
The Fire took an initial 1-0 lead five minutes into the match after Dutch trialist John Goossens scored on a Whitecaps FC turnover. That high-pressure system would become a theme throughout the match, although Vancouver did go on to take a 2-1 lead into halftime after an own goal from Johan Kappelhof and a close-range finish from Cristian Techera. However, it was the Fire battling back in the second half to take the result thanks to penalties from Designated Players Gilberto and Kennedy Igboananike.
Chicago improved to 3-0-1 during the preseason. Sunday’s win came against a Vancouver squad that finished second in the Western Conference one year ago.
“I think the team did well to keep possession and controlled the pace well while we had possession and while defending," said head coach Veljko Paunovic. "It was a very good, high intensity pressing game for both teams. We could see that we’ve prepared well at this point of the preseason. Now, we need to continue to progress and improve. We need to work on everything.”
Goossens continued his hot preseason with an early goal. Matt Polster won the ball off of Whitecaps FC midfielder Pedro Morales in Vancouver’s box, knocking it into the path of Goossens. Goossens then took a touch and finished with a powerful blast into the upper left corner.
It was Goossens creating a chance in the 17th minute. After taking a pass from Cocis on Chicago’s half of the field, Goossens sent the ball 50 yards on the ground with the outside of his boot and into the path of Gilberto. The Brazilian striker beat his mark and crushed a shot that was destined for the upper right corner, but Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted dove to parry it off the post and out for a corner.
Vancouver equalized in the 24th minute on an own goal. Fraser Aird crossed to Christian Bolaños in the box. The Costa Rican midfielder tried to center a pass, but the ball careened off Kappelhof and into the net.
Techera put Whitecaps FC in the lead in the 38th minute, tapping in from the doorstep thanks to a well-placed cross from Sam Adekugbe.
The Fire nearly for found their own equalizer in the final minute of the half. Goossens won the ball near midfield and then led a counter-attack from the point, ultimately sliding a pass to the left for Joey Calistri. Calistri hit his shot in stride, but Ousted was there to smother it at the near post.
Chicago came out with zeal in the second half and knotted the match at two apiece six minutes in. Whitecaps FC defender Kendall Waston fouled Gilberto in the box on a counter-attack, earning the Fire a penalty. Gilberto took the spot kick and lifted it into the upper right netting.
The Fire regained the lead in the 81st minute on another penalty. Collin Fernandez danced through Vancouver’s box before getting tripped by Waston. Kennedy Igboananike finished the ensuing penalty in the lower right corner. Both Fernandez and Igboananike had subbed on just one minute before the penalty was awarded.
Igboananike nearly doubled his haul if not for a fingertip save by Ousted in the 86th. Fernandez whipped a free kick into the box and Igbaoananike rose highest, nodding his shot low and on target. Ousted dove and knocked the ball away in front of a crowded net.
Chicago continues the 2016 Simple Invitational on Wednesday, Feb. 24 against Minnesota United FC (7 p.m. CT / Livestream at Chicago-Fire.com).
2016 Simple Invitational
Chicago Fire 3:2 Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Feb. 21, 2016 – Providence Park
CHI – John Goossens (Matt Polster) 5
VAN – Johan Kappelhof (own goal) 24
VAN – Cristian Techera (Sam Adekugbe, Kekuta Manneh) 38
CHI – Gilberto (penalty) 51
CHI – Kennedy Igboananike (penalty) 81
VAN – Deybi Flores (caution) 33
CHI – Gilberto (caution) 36
VAN – Kendall Waston (caution) 78
CHI – Collin Fernandez (caution) 86
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson (Matt Lampson 79), Michael Harrington, Johan Kappelhof, Joao Meira (Jonathan Campbell 70), Brandon Vincent, Matt Polster, Razvan Cocis © (Michael Stephens 79), ^Arturo Alvarez (Collin Fernandez 79), ^John Goossens (Nick LaBrocca 70), Joey Calistri, Gilberto (Kennedy Igboananike 79).
Shots: 14; Shots On-Goal: 7; Saves: 2; Corners: 5; Fouls: 17
Vancouver Whitecaps FC: David Ousted, Fraser Aird, Kendall Waston, Christian Dean, Sam Adekugbe, Deybi Flores, Pedro Morales © (Kianz Froese 70), Cristian Techera (Blas Pérez 76), Christian Bolaños, Kekuta Manneh (Marco Bustos 79), Octavio Rivero.
Shots: 4; Shots On-Goal: 4; Saves: 4; Corners: 4; Fouls: 12