The Chicago Fire and AC Milan played a festive exhibition Wednesday night at Soldier Field and Fire head coach Dave Sarachan was all smiles despite his team's 3-1 loss.
"For those that watched the game today and those that were here in the building, it was something special. As a competitive coach and athlete, we don't like losing games, but at the same time we put this in perspective and it was an entertaining night," said Sarachan.
The Fire boss substituted seven players in the game's final 30 minutes -- giving virtually his entire roster a potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete against some of the world's best players -- and it was during that transitional stretch that Milan found its foothold, scoring twice in the game's final 14 minutes.
"I'm very pleased and proud of my team with the way they approached this game and the way they enjoyed themselves. They pushed Milan, they didn't back down, we hit the post a bunch of times, and we created a lot of chances," said Sarachan.
Milan 'keeper Valerio Fiori was among the busiest players on the pitch, as the Fire registered 14 shots while maintaining significant possession in their attacking third of the field.
"They are a very good team," he said. "They had a lot of sharp players. On the field, they were a little bit dangerous."
Well-struck Fire volleys hit the goalpost three times and Fire forward Andy Herron missed two breakaway opportunities, one on each side of halftime.
"Andy's trying so hard, it's almost working against him. He just needs to break the ice and get a goal," said Sarachan sympathetically.
"I always give forwards credit for creating chances and at the end of the day he's sitting at his locker very disappointed that he had two great chances where on one the goalkeeper made three saves in a row."
Ivaldo Basso is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.