Published on February 22nd, 2017 | by Jeff Engelhardt0
Fire continue perfect preseason with 3-2 victory over FC Cincinnati
The Chicago Fire continued their winning ways Wednesday, defeating USL side FC Cincinnati 3-2 in a victory that featured 22 players for the Fire.
The first half started with a Fire lineup of Jorge Bava; Michael Harrington, Johan Kappelhof, Jonathan Campbell, Brandon Vincent; Dax McCarty, Juninho; John Goossens, Luis Solignac, David Accam; Nemanja Nikolic.
The first half was a back and forth affair in terms of possession but neither team produced much in the way of danger. Juninho had another scorcher that challenged Cincinnati’s keeper, but unlike the Miami FC game, no Fire striker was there for a rebound. It was not until the 31st minute that Chicago got on the board.
Accam played a short corner to Vincent who quickly played a pass to Goossens near the goal line. Goossens sent in a cross that found Solignac for a perfectly placed header to the far corner as the Argentinean striker continued his impressive preseason.
Former Fire man Austin Berry featured for FC Cincinnati in the first half but was quiet outside of a tidy clearance early in the match. It was Aodhan Quinn who proved to be a thorn in the Fire’s side, popping up in dangerous positions throughout the half. He registered what seemed to be a goal before Solignac’s strike, but the referee questionably deemed it offside.
After taking a 1-0 lead into halftime, the Fire switched up their lineup completely. Chicago featured Stefan Cleveland; Chad Barson, Joao Meira, Matej Dekovic, Patrick Doody; Drew Conner, Djordje Mihailovic; Arturo Alvarez, Michael de Leeuw, Daniel Johnson; David Arshakyan.
The second half started with Chicago controlling more of the play and tempo than the start of the first half but it was not until the 70th minute when it would enjoy its second goal. Doody continued his strong preseason by delivering a good cross to the far post for de Leeuw who smashed a header straight down that eventually was misplayed by Cincinnati’s Marco Dominguez into the net.
Cleveland, who enjoyed a strong showing against Miami FC, showed his youth with a poor decision to run off his line in the 88th minute. The young keeper attempted to get on the other end of a long cross near the top of the 18-yard box from Cincinnati’s Paul Nicholson, but Djiby Fall beat Cleveland to the ball for an easy header to score.
The Fire answered right away as a minute later Alvarez sent a free kick into de Leeuw who laid it off for Dekovic. The young center back draftee made no mistake and finished with an uncontested shot to the near post. Cincinnati’s Nicholson would make his presence felt again in stoppage time when he sent a world-class free kick into the back of the Fire’s net from 20+ yards out.
It was a good run out for a team that must be looking forward to meaningful games after piling up goals and confidence. At a point preseason becomes little more than an extra conditioning session and that seems to be where the club is at.
Questions surrounding goalkeeper and right back still exist. Cleveland was not as strong as his Miami performance and Bava was better than his last outing. Bava was always the top choice and should get some wiggle room, though not much, should the season get off to a bumpier start than expected.
Barson was fine but unchallenged most of the afternoon. With Ryan Taylor on the way, neither Barson or Harrington should feel confident about a starting role.
The Fire wrap up their preseason on Saturday at 2 p.m. against Eastern Conference champions Toronto F.C.