Fire coach Raphael Wicky and Union coach Jim Curtin agreed beforehand to extend the match by 25 minutes, so more players could get time on the field. Both teams had quality chances early on, but the teams ended 0-0 after the first 90 minutes of play.
“It was a very good test,” Wicky said after the match. “I think it was a very intensive test, something we expected. Philly is preparing for (Concacaf) Champions League games, so they’re taking these games also very serious, and you could see the intensity was very high.”
Here's the @JavierCasas_ winner today for the Fire. Nice through ball from Frankowski.— Patrick McCraney (@patrickmccraney) March 21, 2021
Yeah it's only preseason, but It had to be cool for him to score for the first team today.#cffc #cf97 pic.twitter.com/gOInSfSvEu
Ten minutes into the extra 25 minute block, Przemyslaw Frankowski slipped a nice through ball to Casas, who put it away for the game winner. For Casas, a Homegrown signing who didn’t play a single minute during the 2020 regular season, it was his first goal for the Fire’s first team.
“Happy for Javi,” Wicky said. “I’m always happy for the guys who score, but it’s not the most important who scores.”
Because of the extended time, Wicky was able to give many Fire players 60 minutes on the pitch. Defensively, the team used two goalkeepers (Bobby Shuttleworth and Gabriel “Gaga” Slonina) and several defenders (Jonathan Bornstein, Francisco Calvo, Carlos Teran and Boris Sekulic started, and were replaced by Miguel Navarro, Wyatt Omsberg, Nick Slonina and Jhon Espinoza). Both units were able to keep Philadelphia’s attack off the board.
“It’s always important,” said Fire captain Francisco Calvo, who is departing Sunday for national team duty with Costa Rica. “These games in preseason, they give you confidence. When you win—we have two straight wins—and the confidence of the team is so much better. We’re working hard, and we are a really hard team to play against.”
The extended match meant extended time for injuries, and the Fire saw a few. Forward Elliot Collier departed late in the first half with what appeared to be a knee injury, and was shown on the live stream lying on the sideline during the second half with an air compression sleeve on his leg. Midfielder Fabian Herbers was replaced by Casas in the 80th minute after limping off, and Andre Reynolds II looked to be in pain late in the match.
On the injuries, Wicky didn’t have many details after the match. “Hopefully it’s not bad,” he said. And even though winning wasn’t the primary goal of this tune-up match—it was gaining minutes and match fitness for his team—Wicky said a victory is still nice.
“I’m happy with the mentality, the attitude of the whole team,” Wicky said. “First time now for a lot of players (playing) 60 minutes for the first time in about four months, so happy with that. We always like to win, we always take a result.”
The Fire return to the Omni Orlando Resort next Saturday for a match against FC Cincinnati (10:30 a.m. CT). That one will also be streamed live at ChicagoFireFC.com, and play-by-play man Tyler Terens has promised the return of the picnic table broadcasting setup. After that, the Fire will wrap up the Florida portion of training camp with a match against Orlando City at Exploria Stadium on April 3.
The regular season opener—an April 17 matchup with the New England Revolution at Soldier Field—is less than a month away.
Another one for the future: Jhon Duran, the 17-year-old star forward who will join the Fire at the start of the 2022 season, scored another goal for Envigado in Colombia on Saturday. You can check out his finish here.