Pappa's goal powers Fire past Revolution


Pappa's goal powers Fire past Revolution

Sunday, June 27, 2010
8:58 PM

Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass.(AP) -- Marco Poppa's first-half goal extended the Chicago Fire's MLS unbeaten streak to five matches with a 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution on Sunday night.

Poppa uncorked a 30-yard drive for his team-best sixth goal of the season in the 30th minute. The ball glanced off of the right hand of diving goalkeeper Matt Reis.

Chicago has beaten New England five times and tied them twice since 2007.

Chicago goalie Andrew Dyskstra made six saves for his third clean sheet of the season.

Zack Schilawski misfired on point-blank headers in the 24th and 37th minutes

In the second half, Sainey Nyassi's uncontested left-footed drive from just inside the penalty box veered wide right in the 61st.

Fire players downplay importance of undefeated preseason record

Fire players downplay importance of undefeated preseason record

Despite struggles in recent years during the regular season, the Chicago Fire have had a good run in the preseason.

In Veljko Paunovic's two years in charge, the Fire have posted two undefeated preseasons, but the February success goes further back than that. In officially listed preseason matches on the Fire's website, the Fire went 7-1 in 2014, and a less impressive, but still undefeated 1-0-4 in 2015. Last season, Paunovic's first season, the Fire posted a 5-0-1 preseason mark.

The Fire failed to make the playoffs in any of those years and were dead last in Major League Soccer in each of the last two years.

This time around the Fire went a perfect 6-0, beginning with two shutouts and finishing with four more wins in which the Fire scored 16 goals. Downplaying the relevance of preseason results seems obvious, especially with the Fire's recent track record, but is there some benefit to winning as opposed to losing?

Midfielder Dax McCarty snickered at the question when asked at the Fire's season kickoff luncheon on Monday.

"I don't think it's that valuable at all actually," McCarty said. "It's nice to win. The goal in every game you play is to win games. Preseason teams are tinkering, teams are playing different formations and players and personnel. I think the general thesis of preseason should be to try to work on the things that you want to do in the season that are going to make you a successful team. For each team that's different so we definitely put value on the results that we got, you always want to win every time you step on the field, but in terms of what it means for the regular season, it doesn't mean much. We have a lot of confidence knowing that we have a good team and we have good players and the results in preseason showed that. As far as how valuable it is, I don't think it's very valuable at all. It's definitely nice to say you went through the preseason unbeaten I guess."

The purpose of the preseason is generally to get players in shape for the season, find how certain pieces on the team fit together and to begin to form the relationships on the team, both on and off the field, that will be crucial when the games matter. Results are, with good reason, viewed as secondary.

However, general manager Nelson Rodriguez said there are intangible benefits to winning in the preseason, although he admitted thinking the same last year when the team had a good preseason and then went winless in the first three matches of 2016 and struggled throughout the year.

"Of course they matter," Rodriguez said of preseason results. "They matter during the preseason, but [season opening opponent] Columbus is not afraid of us because we went 6-0-0 in the preseason. But again what the results during preseason allow to have happened is this belief in each other, is in this trust in the style of play and the proactive nature we're trying to build at the club. Results confer legitimacy, losses erode it. So in that regard I think it was helpful."

Juninho, who like McCarty is a league veteran and new addition to the Fire this offseason, leaned more towards McCarty's sentiment.

"What we got from there was the minutes and the games," Juninho said. "That's what was the main thing. When the season starts it's another game. We all know that and we have to work and focus on the season."

Paunovic talked about the team's work in the preseason and building confidence, but wouldn't talk about the results.

"We believe that the preseason is very important, but obviously as I said, when the season starts that's where you see who can handle the difficult situations and who you can count on."

When the Fire head to Columbus for the March 4 season opener both teams will have clean slates. The Fire will be hoping to turn a winning preseason into a winning start to the regular season and go against the recent trend.

Fire finish preseason with undefeated record after beating Toronto

Fire finish preseason with undefeated record after beating Toronto

The Chicago Fire finished off another undefeated preseason on Saturday.

The Fire concluded preseason play in Florida with a 4-1 win against Toronto FC at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg.

It was the sixth and final preseason game in the Fire's preseason. The Fire outscored the opponents, three MLS teams, two minor league clubs and a college team, 18-6 and scored 16 goals in the past four games.

The Fire started with what appears to be a likely starting lineup for the opening match at Columbus a week from today. Jorge Bava was in goal with a back four of Brandon Vincent, Johan Kappelhof, Joao Meira and Michael Harrington. The midfield was anchored by Dax McCarty and Juninho in the center with David Accam, Michael de Leeuw and Arturo Alvarez supporting striker Nemanja Nikolic in the attack.

With the season opener at Columbus just a week away, coach Veljko Paunovic played the starters into the second half and had five players, Bava, Vincent, Kappelhof, McCarty and Juninho, play the full 90 minutes. Meanwhile Toronto made eight changes at halftime.

Juninho scored in the ninth minute on a rocket shot from outside the box. The Fire doubled the lead just over 10 minutes later when Nemanja Nikolic converted a penalty kick after Michael de Leeuw was fouled in the box. David Accam set up de Leeuw for the third goal and the Fire led 3-0 at halftime.

In the second half de Leeuw got his second goal before Toronto pulled one back via a penalty kick from Tosaint Ricketts.

"It's good for our confidence that we win these kind of games, but at the end, next week every team is starting at zero," de Leeuw said after the match. "Everything next week is important, but I think the confidence is big after this one."