The Chicago Fire concluded Phase 2 of their preseason with split squad games today. A primarily first team lineup fell to the San Jose Earthquakes 2-0 thanks to goals from Steven Lenhart and Brad Ring. The second team defeated the Ventura County Fusion 2-1 on the backs of a penalty kick goal from Orr Barouch and a Pari Pantazopoulos header Barouch assisted on. Most Fire players return to Chicago tonight and some fans are planning on meeting them at the airport. The team flight is scheduled to arrive at O'Hare Airport at 10:40 PM CST. Their luggage claim would be somewhere in Terminal 3. My best guess is look for those banging drums and wearing red.
Chicago has not announced any cuts to their trialists but the Vancouver Whitecaps did trim their camp roster down today. The Canadian club parted ways with MLS SuperDraft pick and former Chicago Fire PDL player Chris Estridge. Some thought the natural left back had 'fallen' in the draft to number 21 so to see him outright cut is certainly a surprise. Frank Klopas is still trying to figure out the left back situation with trialists Ivan Guerrero and Hunter Jumper. It would appear Estridge would be a great invite to Chicago's camp.
However, Estridge was invited to train with Sporting KC after the Chicago Fire PDL team played against them in the U.S. Open Cup. I imagine Estridge will go wherever he feels he has the best chance of making a squad. Klopas might feel like the team has progressed far enough and doesn't need to invite more players into camp. More on this and the summaries for today's games after the break.
The Fire depart Wednesday, February, 22 for phase three of preseason in Charleston, S.C. While in South Carolina, the team will conclude preparations for the club's 15th MLS season with games against DC United (February 25), Columbus Crew (February 29) and Charleston Battery (March 3), as part of the 2012 Carolina Challenge Cup. All three Fire matches will be webcast live via Chicago-Fire.com.
The Carolina games will see primarily top lineups with players going 90 minutes much like today's match against the San Jose Earthquakes. The season kick-offs in less than a month and by the time the team is done in South Carolina, only two weeks will remain before the start of the season. Klopas has said the team is looking to sign one more central defender. Time is getting short.
Saturday Game Notes & Summary:
Fire captain Logan Pause saw his first preseason action since the team's 0-0 draw against D.C. United January 29.
The Fire were without midfielder Marco Pappa who departed camp Friday night to join the Guatemalan national team for a pair of friendlies February 22 at Paraguay and February 29 at Guyana.
As the Fire prepare for phase three of preseason camp, the team will also lose goalkeeper Sean Johnson (U.S. U-23's), midfielder Victor Pineda (U.S. U-20's) and striker Orr Barouch (Israel U-21's) to international duty for most of team's stay in Charleston, SC. All three players, as well as Pappa are expected to be available for selection for the team's match March 3 vs. the Charleston Battery.
Chicago Fire 0 - 2 San Jose Earthquakes
Chicago Fire: Jay Nolly (Sean Johnson 46'); Dan Gargan, Jalil Anibaba, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares; Logan Pause (C), Pavel Pardo, Patrick Nyarko (Lucky Mkosana* 68'); Sebastian Grazzini; Federico Puppo (Rafael Robayo 46'), Dominic Oduro
* - MLS SuperDraft/Supplemental Draft selection
** - Trialist
San Jose Earthquakes: Jon Busch; Steven Beitashour, Victor Bernardez, Justin Morrow, Ramiro Corrales; Marvin Chavez (Sam Garza 68'), Khari Stephenson, Brad Ring (Jean-Marc Alexandre 46'), Rafael Baca, Shea Salina; Steven Lenhart (Sercan Guvenisik 46')
SJ - Steven Lenhart (Ramiro Corrales) 3'
SJ - Brad Ring (Marvin Chavez) 38'
Referee: Kevin Stott
Assistant Referees: Ian Anderson, Manuel Torres
Chicago Fire 2 - 1 Ventura County Fusion
Chicago Fire Starting XI: Paolo Tornaghi**; Tony Walls*, Austin Berry, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Hunter Jumper*; Michael Videira, Daniel Paladini, Ivan Guerrero**; Corben Bone; Kheli Dube, Orr Barouch
VCF - Unidentified 18'
CHI - Orr Barouch (penalty kick) 58'
CHI - Pari Pantazopoulos (Orr Barouch) 68'