Fire get past Rapids to advance in U.S. Open Cup

431303.jpg

Fire get past Rapids to advance in U.S. Open Cup

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted: 10:14 p.m.

Associated Press

PEORIA, Ill. -- Gaston Puerari and Jalil Anibaba scored to lead the Chicago Fire to a 2-1 victory Wednesday against the Colorado Rapids in a play-in match for the U.S. Open Cup.

Puerari scored on a long shot in the 45th minute to make it 1-0.

Colorado tied it up in the 47th minute, when Quincy Amarikwa found an open Andre Akpan. Akpan drilled the ball into the net.

The Fire regained the lead in the 61st minute, when Anibaba blasted a 40-yard shot past diving Rapids goalkeeper Ian Joyce.

A late shot by Colorado's Sanna Nyassi in the 86th minute just missed the right post.

Chicago will face the winner of Portland-San Jose in the next round of Open Cup play.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Fire score five goals for fourth preseason win

Fire score five goals for fourth preseason win

Preseason wins don't necessarily translate to regular season wins, but the Chicago Fire haven't had much trouble racking up February wins in Florida.

The Fire made it 4-for-4 in the preseason with a 5-2 win against North American Soccer League foe Miami FC from the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., on Sunday.

The game featured some aesthetically pleasing goals, but the opener was a reminder that it's preseason and the players aren't in midseason form yet. A back pass from a Miami defender turned into a through ball for Luis Solignac. Solignac took the gift and scored uncontested with a slotted shot in the box in the third minute.

Miami evened things up in the 38th minute when Dylan Mares was left open on the left side of the box and scored with a low shot.

The Fire regained the lead with a penalty kick a few minutes later. A Brandon Vincent cross resulted in a handball in the box and John Goossens rifled the penalty into the upper 90.

Trialist Taylor Peay got the start at right back, his first appearance of the preseason. Three draft picks, Daniel Johnson, Brandt Bronico and Matej Dekovic, also started.

In the second half the Fire went with an entirely different lineup and the attack livened up. Arturo Alvarez kicked things off by cutting in to his left foot and scoring with a shot into the side netting in the 49th minute. A few minutes later the Fire piled on the pressure with David Accam getting free from his man and then setting up Nemanja Nikolic, whose shot was saved onto the post and back into play. The Fire came right back with a long shot from Juninho that forced a rebound that David Arshakyan tucked away.

The fifth goal was the best of the bunch. A 10-pass sequence with mostly one-touch passing and Drew Conner at the heart of the buildup led to Nemanja Nikolic centering a ball to David Accam, who scored into an open net.

Nikolic, Accam and Alvarez provided an immediate spark to the attack after a first half in which the Fire struggled to create chances from the run of play.

The game also featured the usage of the video replay system the league is using in select preseason matches in preparation for the system's use in the regular season. In the 71st minute the referee used the replay system to go back and call a penalty kick on a Michael Harrington foul. Goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland, drafted by the Fire in the second round in January, saved the penalty kick, but Ariel Pedro Martinez was able to score on the rebound.

In other news, goalkeeper Matt Lampson has a sprained MCL. A spokesman for the Fire said he could return for the season opener. Jorge Bava got the start on Sunday and appears to be in line to begin the season at the Fire's No. 1 keeper.

On the live stream of the match former Fire TV analyst Kevin Egan said former Newcastle United right back Ryan Taylor, 32, is expected to join the Fire in camp as a trialist shortly.

The Fire's next preseason match is against USL side FC Cincinnati on Wednesday.

See gifs of the first two Fire goals and Arshakyan's second half rebound below:

Eric Gehrig officially joins Fire's staff an assistant coach

Eric Gehrig officially joins Fire's staff an assistant coach

The Chicago Fire filled out the rest of the soccer operations staff on Wednesday and a familiar name is an assistant coach.

Eric Gehrig filled the assistant coach vacancy opened by Logan Pause's departure. Gehrig, 29, played the last two seasons with the Fire as a defender.

Gehrig had his option declined by the Fire this offseason, but resurfaced as an assistant coach at the start of preseason training. He was technically on trial as a coach until today.

Yesterday Gehrig announced his retirement as a player on Instagram, which led the way for his move into coaching. Gehrig played four seasons with the Columbus Crew before joining the Fire.

Six years ago to the day I signed my first professional contract. It was one of the greatest days of my life. I still can remember anxiously waiting to get out of what felt like the longest team meeting in my life. I just couldn’t run upstairs fast enough to call Greg. Competing in the playoffs for the Columbus Crew, in front of some of the most passionate fans, are memories I'll cherish forever. And then being traded to my hometown Chicago Fire, the first soccer team I ever loved, and being voted Chicago Fire Defender of the Year. Literally backyard dreams becoming a reality. Thank you to my brother @ggehrig09 for sharing his genuine joy and unwavering support. To my parents, there’s just no words. Car rides, soccer jerseys, nachos at Fire games, every Adidas Predator shoes released, you name it. I LOVE you 3 so much, and here's to many more memories at soccer stadiums 😉. Thank you to all my coaches over the years for relentlessly pushing me, even when it was hard for me to see why at the time. You guys hardened me, toughened me, and without those experiences there's no way I would have made it to Major League Soccer. Thank you to the fans, for giving a no-name kid from Loyola a chance to earn your trust and support. Both to the people of Columbus, who became family, and to my brothers and sisters in Chicago, THANK YOU. Lastly, I want to thank my teammates. To me being with you all, and getting to know you, is what was the best part. Sure, I'll miss competing in sold out stadiums, wrestling with superstar forwards, or hitting 60 yard lasers to a teammates foot 😁. But I WILL undoubtedly miss those times spent with the boys the most, and I've been lucky to make some amazing friends for life. You all made me a better player, but more importantly a better man. Thank you so much guys. I’ll always be here for you! ….and with that I announce my retirement from playing professional soccer. It’s bittersweet for sure, but I am at peace, and more than anything, I’m beyond grateful. The game has meant too much to me over the last 20 years for this to be the end... EG ❤️ p.s. Happy Valentines Day @natalieput. You’re so pretty. Love you.

A post shared by Eric Gehrig (@egehrig6) on

Gehrigh is younger than six players on the Fire's roster: Jorge Bava, Arturo Alvarez, Michael Harrington, Michael de Leeuw, Dax McCarty and Joao Meira.

In two other moves to the soccer operations staff, Steven Purcell got moved up to head athletic trainer after being an assistant athletic trainer last year. Reade Whitney was hired to fill Purcell's vacated spot.