The Chicago Fire (1-0-0, 3 pts.) opened their 12th season of MLS play with a 3-1 win over FC Dallas (0-1-0, 0 pts.) at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. Dallas forward Kenny Cooper opened scoring in the ninth minute of play with a lofted shot from past midfield, but the Fire leveled the score in the 38th minute with a goal from midfielder Justin Mapp. Chicagoland native Brian McBride recorded the game-winning goal off a penalty kick opportunity in the 51st minute and Fire designated player Cuauhtémoc Blanco scored the insurance goal in second half stoppage time with a free kick from 20-yards out. The Fire start the 2009 season 1-0-0 in MLS league play. The Fire return to action Saturday, March 28 against D.C. United, on the road at RFK Stadium (6:30 p.m., My50 Chicago)."This was a fantastic win and a great way to start our season," said Chicago Fire Head Coach Denis Hamlett. "Our team showed composure after giving up an early goal. The players dug in and scored timely goals. Justin Mapp's goal right before the half gave us a little lift and in the second half we got another timely goal with Brian McBride's penalty kick, and of course Cuauhtémoc's [Blanco] goal in stoppage time. This was an important way to start our 2009 season." NOTES
In the 9th minute of play, FC Dallas Forward Kenny Cooper lofted a ball from midfield that floated over the head of Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch for the one goal lead.
Fire midfielder Justin Mapp received a ball from forward Patrick Nyarko in the 38th minute and sent a shot past goalkeeper Dario Sala to level the score.
Brian McBride capitalized on a penalty kick opportunity after a hand ball was called on Dallas inside their 18-yard box.
Cuauhtémoc Blanco scores in second half stoppage time curling a free kick around the Dallas wall and placing the shot in the upper right corner.
The win marks the Fire's first-ever win at Pizza Hut Park and first win in Dallas since July 4, 1999.
The win tonight breaks Dallas' six game unbeaten streak against the Fire.
The Fire are 1-0-0 with 1 point after the first game of the season.
The Fire are 5-3-4 in season openers and 5-3-2 in season openers in the road.
The Fire began last season (2008) with a 1-1 tie on the road against Real Salt Lake.
Blanco came off the bench in the 79th minute. Through 41 games played, tonight is the first time that the Fire's designated player has not started a match in which that he has played.
Fire defender Wilman Conde and Dallas goalkeeper Dario Sala were teammates in Colombia while playing for Deportivo Cali.
The Fire return to action next Saturday, March 28 as the team travels to Washington D.C. to face Eastern Conference rival D.C. United (My50 Chicago, 6:30 p.m.).
The Fire will host the New York Red Bulls for their home opener at TOYOTA PARK on Sunday, April 5 at 2 p.m. CT. Tickets are available now by calling 1-888-MLS-FIRE or clicking on the TICKETS link on the club's official website, www.chicago-fire.com.