JACKSON, Miss. - The Chicago Fire used goals from five different players on its way to a comfortable 5-0 victory over the University of Alabama-Birmingham this afternoon at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS. Today's result pushes Chicago's record to 5-4-2 leading up to its preseason finale next Friday against the MetroStars.
The Fire and Blazers remained scoreless past the half-hour mark, but a three-goal spurt in a six-minute span put the "Men in Red" firmly in control. The offensive outburst started in the 37th minute, when midfielder Scott Buete finished a chance with a strike into the lower left corner from 16 yards out to give the Fire a 1-0 lead. Three minutes later in the 40th minute, it was forward Andy Herron who would notch his second tally of the year and double the lead to 2-0 by depositing a penalty kick that was created when defender Gonzalo Segares' run into the penalty area was cut short after being fouled by a UAB defender. It would only take another three minutes to see the lead increase again, as Brazilian playmaker Thiago redirected a cross from defender Leonard Griffin from 10 yards out to cap the first half scoring at 3-0 Fire. The tally was Thiago's team-high fourth goal of the preseason.
Several substitutions marked the beginning of the second half, and three of those changes - midfielders Jesse Marsch, Justin Mapp and John Thorrington - would combine to put the Fire up 4-0 in the 63rd minute. Thorrington found Mapp, who beat two defenders towards the endline and whipped in a cross to Marsch, who gathered the ball near the penalty spot and fired a shot that found the lower right corner. Two minutes from time, it was the local product Mapp that finished the scoring after taking a pass from captain Chris Armas, sidestepping a defender and scoring from 14 yards out. Goalkeepers Matt Pickens and David Mahoney kept UAB off the board in the first and second halves, respectively, to post the clean sheet on the afternoon.
Fire Lineup (4-4-2): Matt Pickens (David Mahoney 46), Gonzalo Segares, Kelly Gray (Jim Curtin 46), Jack Stewart (C.J. Brown 46), Leonard Griffin, Hollis Donaldson (John Thorrington 46), Scott Buete (Chris Armas 46), Thiago (Jesse Marsch 46), Chris Rolfe, Will Johnson (Justin Mapp 46), Andy Herron (Nate Jaqua 46).
CHI - Scott Buete 1 (UA) 37
CHI - Andy Herron 2 (penalty kick) 40
CHI - Thiago 4 (Leonard Griffin 3) 43
CHI - Jesse Marsch 2 (Justin Mapp 2, John Thorrington 2) 63
CHI - Justin Mapp 1 (Chris Armas 1) 89
Fire Preseason Notes
The Fire will remain in Jackson this week to complete its last training camp of the 2005 preseason, culminating in its final exhibition contest against the MetroStars this Friday, Mar. 25 at 7:30 p.m. CT at Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland, MS.
Mario Ivan Guerrero returned to the Fire camp this afternoon after the Honduran international represented the "Catrachos" in their 1-0 loss to the United States in an international friendly played yesterday in Albuquerque, NM. The left-sided defender played all 90 minutes for Honduras and served as the team's captain for the match.
Two other Fire players will be absent this week while on international duty, as Chad Barrett and Will John arrived in South Korea with the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team earlier today. The U.S.A. will face Argentina, Egypt and South Korea this week in the prestigious Suwon International Youth Football Tournament, which takes place from Mar. 22-26.