CHICAGO, IL - The Chicago Fire full-team has yet to allow the Kansas City Wizards to beat the squad at home in Chicago in regular season play. It appears the Fire Reserves (3-2-2, 11 pts.) did its best to keep that streak alive as they edged out the Kansas City Wizards Reserves (0-3-3, 3 pts.) 2-0 in MLS Reserve Division action Saturday night at the Lemont High School Soccer Complex, in Lemont, IL. A tally from the penalty spot in the 13th minute by Costa Rican forward Andy Herron was all that was needed for the Fire to come away from the Chicagoland suburb with a positive result.
Without the services of goalkeeper Matt Pickens due to injury, and rookies Chris Rolfe and Gonzalo Segares playing on the first-team, and the absences of regular Reserves players Will John, Chad Barrett and Will Johnson due to national team duty for the U-20 World Youth Championship in Holland, the new-look Fire Reserves took on a Wizards Reserves squad just itching to win. Both teams would struggle in the final third of play early on, as it seemed both were content to use long-ball, over-the-top tactics to break through their opponent's defense. Staunch defensive work also kept each other's forwards at bay, forcing their opponent to strike primarily from long distance, just as Wizards forward Khari Stephenson did in the second minute of play. His long-range effort from 18 yards out would be a quick roller that would bounce back off the left post. This would be the best of the night for the Wizards Reserves. Four minutes later, Chicago's Andy Herron sent a return strike from 28 yards out, but the shot sailed wide right.
The deadlock would be broken in the 13th minute as Fire forward Hemir Niebles made a strong dribbling move past three Wizards Reserves defenders, approximately 25 yards from goal. Niebles attempted to make a pass in the cluster of defenders but the ball was deflected back towards him. Niebles took the ball and charged toward goal, but he was taken down just inside the 18 yard box before he could uncork his shot. Herron stepped up to the plate to take the ensuing penalty kick and smoothly finished a low roller just inside the right post.
In the 21st minute, Wizards midfielder Alex Zotinca played a quick pass into the box for forward Ryan Pore, who laid a soft pass backwards for his striker partner, Scott Sealy. Sealy's shot from 10 yards out was easily collected. One minute later, a Fire freekick from 23 yards out was struck hard by Fire defender Samuel Caballero. His rocket veered high and left, no problem for Wizards keeper Will Hesmer. Wizards midfielder Jack Jewsbury collected a long ariel through-ball in the 28th minute and fired right into the right side netting. The Fire would have one last chance in the first half as midfielder Scott Buete took a corner in the 40th minute of play, but Wizards midfielder Justin Detter quickly cleared his service.
The second half would start out similarly to the first, with both sides deadlocked in terms of possession, with neither team creating many serious chances on goal. That would change ten minutes into the half, as each team began pressuring for a goal. Fire defender Jack Stewart nearly connected with Herron in the 54th minute with a low feed across the goalmouth, only six-yards from goal. In the 55th Wizards defender Brian Roberts would try his luck from 30 yards out, missing just outside the left post.
The Fire Reserves nearly doubled their lead in the 62nd minute as defender C.J. Brown sprung Herron through the defense with a low pass 10 yards out. But the Costa Rican international's shot past the diving Wizards goalkeeper was waived offside.
Despite pressuring more and more in the Fire Reserves' half of field between the 60-75th minute mark, the Wizards conceded another goal. Fire midfielder Jared Montz sent a long through ball to Niebles in the 69th minute. Niebles collected the ball on the run but was quickly taken down by Wizards defender Ryan Raybould inside the box. This time it was the Honduran Samuel Caballero who converted the penalty kick, his well-placed shot went just inside the left post as the Fire led 2-0.
The last chance of the game came in the 90th minute as Fire midfielder Kenneth Robinson kept with the theme of the night, sending in a long arching ball in the air. His service into the box was contested by both sides quickly, but was eventually booted out of the danger area.
The Fire Reserve's next Reserve Division challenge comes on July 9 against fellow Eastern Conference club New England Revolution Reserves, who have only lost one game out of five played in MLS Reserve Division action this year.
CHI - Andy Herron 1 (PK) 13
CHI - Samuel Caballero 1 (PK) 69
Chicago Fire Reserves (4-4-2) - David Mahoney, Jack Stewart, Samuel Caballero, C.J. Brown, Fred DeGand (Adam Jones 79), Jared Montz, Scott Buete, Kenneth Robinson, Leonard Griffin, Hemir Niebles (Sinan Selmani 75), Andy Herron (Andy Rosenband 63).
Kansas City Reserves (4-4-2) - William Hesmer, John Miragawa-Webster, Brian Roberts, Dustin Branan, Ryan Raybould, Justin Detter (Daniel Dobson 70), Jack Jewsbury (Doug Lascody 70), Alex Zotinca, Khari Stephenson, Ryan Pore, Scott Sealy (Patrick McGinnis 65).
Misconduct Summary: none
Attendance: 223; Weather: Clear Skies, 62 degrees