Fire finish trip to Mexico with loss

The Chicago Fire fell 3-0 to Mexican First Division club Tecos (U.A.G.) on Thursday morning at Tres de Marzo Stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico, in the final of its three exhibition contests during a 10-day preseason training trip to Central Mexico. Tecos, the current overall leaders of the 2005 COMEX Clausura season, scored all three of its goals during a 12-minute span midway through the second half to put away the match. While the Fire's record fell level to an even 4-4-1 mark with the loss, the club took away some positives from the match, most notably the 2005 debut of midfielder and captain Chris Armas.

"I felt good. I'm right where I want to be," said Armas, who has trained alongside the Fire during the first five weeks of the preseason but did not appear in any of its first eight exhibition matches. "I was excited to get in there and get my first minutes today. This is the first time we had pretty much the entire first team together and we did pretty well out there. We're just getting ready for Apr. 2 (the Fire's MLS regular season opener at FC Dallas) and I'm looking forward to a healthy season. I'm still managing minutes and trying to build up my fitness, but as of now I feel good."

Chicago's first-team held Tecos scoreless through the first hour of the contest, including a first half that featured the bulk of Head Coach Dave Sarachan's potential 2005 starting line-up. It was newcomer Will John that had the best scoring chance of the opening stanza in the 36th minute, but his chance was be saved by Tecos 'keeper Jesus Corona to keep the match scoreless. After taking the field for the first time this spring, Armas would exit the match as scheduled in the 31st minute, being replaced by the Fire's preseason scoring leader, midfielder Thiago.

Thiago's free kick from 20 yards out nearly put the "Men in Red" on the board in the 53rd minute, but from there on out it would be Tecos that would create, and finish, the bulk of the chances for the remainder of the contest. The scoring started at the hour mark when forward Mirsha Serrano put Tecos up 1-0. Despite seeing Carlos Ayala sent off in the 65th minute, U.A.G. continued to put pressure on the Fire defense, which paid off again in the 67th minute when an Alfredo Castillo penalty kick doubled the advantage. Just five minutes later, Antonio Huerta's marker would finish Tecos' offensive flurry, while the Fire's best chance of the stanza, a Justin Mapp blast from 22 yards out in the 75th minute, went unanswered after U.A.G. 'keeper Mario Rodriguez dove well to get a hand to it.

"I felt the first half was pretty good in terms of our organization," said Fire Head Coach Dave Sarachan. "We limited Tecos' chances and made a few of our own as well. But we made a couple of mistakes in the second half. Good teams punish you when you make mistakes, and that's what they did to us today."

Fire Lineup (4-4-2): Zach Thornton (Matt Pickens 46), Jim Curtin (Justin Mapp 70), C.J. Brown (Jack Stewart 66), Kelly Gray (Leonard Griffin 46), Mario Ivan Guerrero (Gonzalo Segares 61), Jesse Marsch (Hollis Donaldson 46), Chris Armas (Thiago 31), John Thorrington (Will Johnson 66), Will John, Nate Jaqua, Chad Barrett (Alejandro Nava 57).

Tecos Lineup (4-4-2): Jesus Corona (Mario Rodriguez 46), Diego Colotto (Mario Rosales 46), Said Godinez (Antonio Huerta 46), Eliomar Marcon (Eduardo Lillingston 46), Alex Villalobos, Randy Scott (Pablo Metlich 46), Carlos Morales (Gerraldo Torres 46), Daniel Ludueña (Juan Pablo Montano 46), Juan Rodriguez (Mirsha Serrano 46), Flavio Davino, (Alfredo Castillo 46).

Scoring Summary:
TEC - Mirsha Serrano 60
TEC - Alfredo Castillo (penalty kick) 67
TEC - Antonio Huerta 72

Discipline Summary:
TEC - Carlos Ayala - ejection (second caution) 65

Fire Preseason Notes

  • Today's match finishes the Fire's training excursion south of the border, as the club will pack up and head to Birmingham, AL on Friday morning in preparation for its Saturday night exhibition contest against the Colorado Rapids. However, Fire fans wanting to get a flavor of the team during its stay in Mexico can tune in to Univision Television and Univision Radio over the next 24 hours to catch interviews with and features on the "Men in Red." WGBO-TV Univision-Chicago will broadcast highlights from today's match and conduct interviews with Fire players during its 5:00 p.m. broadcast this evening, while Enrique "El Tico" Fernandez of Univision Radio, WRTO-AM 1200, will interview Fire and Costa Rican National Team striker Andy Herron tomorrow morning during the 8:00 a.m. hour.

  • The Fire has announced that midfielder Craig Capano underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee. Fire Senior Team Physician Dr. Preston Wolin performed the successful surgery at the Neurologic and Orthopedic Institute of Chicago (NOIC) on Monday. Capano, who has already begun rehab work on the knee, is believed to have suffered the tear during preseason training last month. The recovery timeframe for the 19-year-old midfielder has been set for 4-6 months.