Fire notes: Larentowicz's appeal unsuccessful

Fire notes: Larentowicz's appeal unsuccessful
May 1, 2013, 4:45 pm
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Len Ziehm

Though facing a rare bye week in Major League Soccer, the Fire made plenty of news on Wednesday -- and not all of it was good.

The club announced that its appeal of a red card handed to midfielder Jeff Larentowicz on Saturday was not upheld by the Independent Review Panel. That means Larentowicz must sit out the Fire's next match – a May 11 meeting with the Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park.

Larentowicz was sent off in the 63rd minute of a 2-0 loss at Montreal after he clipped the heel of Impact attacker Andrea Pisanu. Pisanu was approaching the penalty box with Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson blocking his path to the goal when the apparent contact with Larentowicz was called by referee Fotis Bazakos. The Impact was awarded a free kick just outside the box after Larentowicz departed.

Bazakos considered the foul a denial of a goal-scoring opportunity, though it’s difficult to imagine Pisanu getting a shot into the net with Johnson poised right in front of him. Fire coach Frank Klopas called it "a terrible call," and he gets no argument here. The club filed its appeal after the team returned to Chicago and the Independent Review Panel made its ruling on Wednesday.

The panel, while not considering the Fire appeal frivolous, wasn’t unanimous in ruling for a dismissal of the red card – the vote needed to overturn the one-game suspension. The panel consists of one member from the U.S. Soccer Federation, one from the Canadian Soccer Assn. and one from the Professional Referees Organization.

Otherwise, the day was an eventful one for the Fire. While the first team is struggling with a 2-5-1 record, the reserves took a 2-1 victory over FC Dallas on the Toyota Park practice field. Klopas used four guest players in the match, but he also had both Maicon Santos and Sherjill MacDonald on the field at the same time. They’ve been sharing time as strikers on the first team with MacDonald getting seven starts without scoring a goal.

Santos, who has two first-team goals but started only the season opener, helped to make his case Wednesday with a goal and an assist for the reserves. Both came in the first half, Corben Bone getting the second goal which proved the game-winner.

MacDonald entered the match at halftime, and Santos was replaced after 76 minutes. The Fire finished the game with 10 players after Wells Thompson drew his second yellow card of the match in the 62nd minute, an automatic ejection.

The Fire also announced its first international friendly of the season – a July 10 meeting with Mexican league leader Club America at Toyota Park. Tickets go on sale at noon on Friday.

Club America, which has ruled Mexico’s first division 10 times, is led by Mexican national team defender Efrain Juarez and Ecuadorian striker Christian Benitez, the top goal-scorer in the Mexican circuit this season.

This will be the third straight year the Fire has hosted a Mexican opponent. Guadalajara Chivas was a 1-0 winner before a crowd of over 18,000 in 2011 and Santos Laguna played to a 2-2 draw with the Fire last year.

Club America has been to Toyota Park twice, taking 2-1 wins over the Fire in both 2006 and 2009.

The U.S. Soccer Federation also announced the play-in and first-round pairings in the summer-long Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. No Chicago teams are involved that early, and the Fire and 15 other MLS clubs don’t enter the competition until the third round. Two play-in matches are scheduled for Tuesday and 18 first-round matches will be played on May 14. There’ll be a 68-team field, the most in the modern era that began in 1995, and the tournament prize money has been dramatically increased. Last year’s champion received $100,000, this year’s gets $250,000.

While the Fire was losing its appeal involving Larentowicz the Chicago Red Stars were dealing with some bad news as well. U.S. women’s national team forward Shannon Boxx, the Red Stars’ best-known player, is expected to be sidelined four-to-six weeks after undergoing surgery to her right knee on Tuesday.

The Red Stars (0-1-1), who play their first road match in the new National Women’s Soccer League on Saturday against the Boston Breakers (1-1-0), called Boxx’s surgery "minor."