The Chicago Fire tasted their first defeat in Reserves League play yesterday. Colorado pulled out a 2-0 victory in a reversal of Saturday night's senior squad game final score. Guillermo Rivera has a recap on the game play over at Chicago Fire Confidential along with an interesting bit on Eric Wynalda being in attendance and sitting next to
Frank Klopas Mike Jeffries during the match. The loss moves the Fire Reserves to a 4-1-1 record but they maintain first place in the standings for the moment. More on the players in the Reserves game, why I'm not fretting, and thoughts on Friday's trade with Seattle are after the break.
The Reserves loss should not come as a surprise considering the fact Chicago has finally found their 'A' team and Frank Klopas was no doubt saving some players for Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup match. Daniel Paladini, Sean Johnson, Diego Chaves, and even Patrick Nyarko have played in these games earlier in the season but were absent Saturday. Orr Barouch typically goes 90 minutes but was subbed out at halftime. Bratislav Ristic was rock solid on the defensive wing before and he is of course no longer with the Fire. Roster consistency and having a Semi-Final game to rest for are nice problems to have. This is good. Chicago's technical staff rolled out a true Reserves lineup given the circumstances:
Jon Conway; Mike Banner, Josip Mikulic (Victor Pineda 46'), Yamith Cuesta, Pari Pantazopoulos; Gabriel Ferrari (Pedro Mendes 41'), Michael Videira, Baggio Husidic (Marcus Epps 61'), Corben Bone; Cristian Nazarit (Kellen Gulley 65'), Orr Barouch (Paulo Mendes 46')
Substitutes Not Used: Alec Dufty, AJ Jeffries
One positive to take away is that Mike Banner is actually playing competitive soccer. With Gonzalo Segares getting a yellow card on this past Saturday, Segares is suspended for the September 10th game against the San Jose Earthquakes due to yellow card accumulation. We might see Mike Banner get the start at LB if Klopas isn't trusting Pari Pantazopoulos. As reported by Rivera, Pedro and Paulo Mendes were high school players that were recommend to Klopas by Eric Wynalda.
Kellen Gulley made his debut with the Chicago Fire Reserves team. Marcus Epps is a product of the Chicago Fire Juniors in Mississippi who moved here to join the U-16 Academy team starting this fall. AJ Jeffries is the son of Chicago Fire Director of Player Personnel Mike Jeffries but this is hardly a legacy invite. The younger Jeffries started out with the Chicago Fire U-16 squad until he was invited to join the U.S. Soccer U-17 Residency program in Brandenton, Florida last year.... the same program Kellen Gulley is a part of. All Fire U-18 academy players are essentially out of Reserves League play because they are playing with their high school teams. Other Reserves League mainstays like Peter Beasley and Brady Wahl have graduated from the U-18 Academy and moved on to college. In fact, Wahl started for No. 15 ranked Ohio State this weekend in a 1-1 draw with American in Ohio State's season opener.
Late Friday afternoon, the Fire announced they had traded the No. 4 allocation spot to the Seattle Sounders for Seattle's 3rd Round pick in 2012 MLS SuperDraft and the Sounders' spot in the allocation order (at the time No. 6, now No. 5). The Sounders immediately used the spot to claim 24 year-old forward Sammy Ochoa. This is a move that could backfire but Ochoa is far from a sure product. The Seattle Times' Joshua Mayers has a pretty good interview with Ochoa up. Ochoa trialed with the Sounders earlier and is a player Seattle coach Sigi Schmid is familiar with dating back to the 2005 U-20 World Cup. I get the strong sense Ochoa signed with MLS because Seattle expressed interest. I honestly have no idea why Ochoa had to go through the allocation order at all. It's suppose to be for USMNT players like Charlie Davies and Jay DeMerit. Ochoa is far from a USMNT player.
Mayers' interview also notes that Schmid believes Ochoa is at least three weeks away from playing in a competitive match.The Fire would have had to drop a player from the senior roster in order to sign Ochoa. I'm happy Chicago got a draft pick out of this bizarre situation.