Fire drop opening match in Mexico, fall to Atlas 4-2

CHICAGO - The Chicago Fire began a three-game exhibition schedule in Guadalajara, Mexico this afternoon by falling 4-2 to Mexican First Division side Atlas at Club Atlas Colomos Field. The result moves the Fire's preseason record to an even 3-3-1 with two matches remaining during the Fire's 10-day stay south of the border.

The Fire would go down a goal early in a wild first half after an Atlas attacker skillfully chipped Chicago goalkeeper Zach Thornton in the game's 13th minute from about 15 yards out. Chicago would pull even courtesy of a Chad Barrett goal ten minutes later, marking the first goal in a Fire uniform for the team's top draft pick. Fire playmaker Thiago started the chance by sending midfielder Justin Mapp down the left wing, where he whipped in a dangerous cross into the area that Barrett buried on one touch from eight yards out for the equalizer. Just moments later in the 25th minute, it would be Thiago that would give the "Men in Red" a brief advantage as Barrett returned the favor, the rookie playing a nice give-and-go to the Brazilian midfielder who buried the return pass from 18 yards out after beating an Atlas defender for his second tally of the preseason.

Chicago would create a handful of quality chances throughout the half in addition to its pair of goals, but shots from Andy Herron, John Thorrington, Kelly Gray and Jesse Marsch, whose try from 20 yards would hit both posts before being cleared, would not move the scoreboard. Goals from Atlas in the 27th and 33rd minutes would cap the scoring in a frenzied first half, giving the Mexican side a 3-2 lead heading into the halftime break. The second half would prove to be as uneventful as the first half was exciting, as the lone tally was scored by Atlas four minutes from time to bring the score to its final 4-2 outcome.

Herron was removed from the match as a precautionary measure after the Costa Rican international suffered tightness around the hamstring area in the 19th minute. The injury appears to be minor, but details will be made available in the upcoming days after the Fire training staff has a chance to evaluate Herron.

The Fire will take the next four days to train on its own before returning to game action against legendary Mexican side Chivas next Tuesday, Mar. 8 at 10:30 a.m. CT. Fire fans will be able to keep up with the "Men in Red" from Mexico, as WGBO-TV's (Univision-66) Hector Lozano and "El Tico" Fernandez of WRTO 1200 AM will be traveling to Guadalajara next week to cover the team during its stay south of the border. For details on the Fire's features on WGBO-TV and WRTO 1200 AM and continuing coverage of the Fire's 2005 preseason activities, please visit www.Chicago-Fire.com.

Chicago Lineup (4-4-2): GK-Zach Thornton (David Mahoney 61), D-Kelly Gray (Gonzalo Segares 61), D-Jim Curtin, D-C.J. Brown (Jack Stewart 61), D-Leonard Griffin (Hollis Donaldson 56), M-John Thorrington (Will John 46), M-Jesse Marsch (Scott Buete 58), M-Thiago (Chad Barrett 74), M-Justin Mapp (Leonard Griffin 81), F-Andy Herron (Nate Jaqua 19), F-Chad Barrett (Chris Rolfe 56).

Scoring Summary:

ATL - 13'

CHI - Chad Barrett 1 (Justin Mapp 1, Thiago 3) 23'

CHI - Thiago 2 (Chad Barrett 3) 25'

ATL - 27'

ATL - 33'

ATL - 86'


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