FORT MYERS, Fla. (Feb. 4, 2017) – The Chicago Fire opened preseason with a 1-0 win over Florida Gulf Coast University on Saturday evening courtesy of a 41st minute goal from Nemanja Nikolic.
Chicago was on the front foot offensively for most of the first half, with head coach Veljko Paunovic slotting Luis Solignac into the second-striker role underneath Nikolic and central to veteran wingers John Goossens and David Accam.
READ: Postmatch Reaction
It was from Solignac's foot in central midfield where the game's only goal originated in the 41st minute. After Solignac did well to find space and lay the ball off to the flanks, it was Accam who returned the ball to the Argentine making a run toward the end line. With his first touch, Solignac redirected the pass and played the ball across the face of the goal. An FGCU defender got a foot on it but the ball deflected off the post for Nikolic to calmly tap in for his first unofficial goal in a Fire shirt.
The hosts got their best look on goal in the 78th minute when the Fire were whistled for a foul 35 yards from goal. The ensuing free kick was nicely taken by the Eagles and bent around the wall but Matt Lampson did well to dive to his right and push the ball out to safety.
The Fire created a late flurry of chances through the likes of midfielders Collin Fernandez and Drew Conner as well as the left-footed services of Patrick Doody, but Florida Gulf Coast succeeded in keeping the score a one-goal margin.
In all, Paunovic utilized 22 players in the friendly, with newcomer Jorge Rodrigo Bava (first half) and returner Matt Lampson (second) splitting duties in net. The Men in Red close out the Fort Myers leg of preseason against the Philadelphia Union at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. on Thursday, Feb. 9.
CHI – Nemanja Nikolic (Luis Solignac, David Accam) 41’
CHICAGO FIRE (first half): Jorge Bava; Boyd Okwuono^, Johan Kappelhof, Joao Meira, Brandon Vincent; Brandt Bronico*, Juninho ©; John Goossens, Luis Solignac, David Accam; Nemanja Nikolic
CHICAGO FIRE (second half): Matt Lampson; Patrick Doody, Jonathan Campbell, Matej Dekovic*, Drew Beckie^; Collin Fernandez, Drew Conner, Miguel Alvarado^, Daniel Johnson; David Arshakyan, Guillermo Delgado
*Unsigned 2017 MLS SuperDraft Pick