Wizards burn Fire in preseason play

CHICAGO - The Chicago Fire ended its three-week Florida training camp with a 3-1 defeat to the Kansas City Wizards tonight in an exhibition contest at the University of South Florida Soccer Stadium in Tampa, FL. Fire forward Andy Herron scored Chicago's lone goal in the contest's 75th minute, but three unanswered goals by Kansas City in the first hour of the match were too much for the Fire to overcome. With tonight's result, the "Men in Red" ended the Florida portion of their preseason with a 3-2-1 record.

It would be the Wizards who would take a 1-0 lead into the halftime break after former Fire forward Josh Wolff converted a penalty kick against his old side in the 41st minute. The chance from the spot was created when Fire defender Leonard Griffin's clearance from just outside the six-yard box deflected off a player and was corralled by Wizards striker Davy Arnaud, who rifled a shot that deflected off of Fire defender Kelly Gray's arm, drawing a whistle and a point to the spot from the referee. Wolff would bury the chance past Fire 'keeper Zach Thornton to give the Wizards the lead, but the advantage nearly disappeared moments later in the 43rd minute when Fire midfielder Thiago took a crack at goal from 25 yards. The Brazilian playmaker's long-range effort whistled just wide of the left post, leaving the "Men in Red" trailing by a goal at the half.

Arnaud would strike twice in as many minutes early in the second half to ice the game away for Kansas City. In the 51st minute, Arnaud would take a pass from Diego Walsh on a two-on-zero breakaway and easily slot it into the open net past a beaten Matt Pickens. Just a minute later, Arnaud would again beat a Fire offside trap to break in and finish past Pickens, giving Kansas City a 3-0 lead. The Fire would not break through until the 75th minute, when the Fire's pair of Costa Ricans - Herron and defender Gonzalo Segares - would combine to put the Fire on the scoreboard. After stealing the ball from Preki near midfield, Segares would find Herron, who beat two defenders and slotted a shot from 15 yards past Wizards 'keeper Will Hesmer for the Fire's lone tally.

After staying in Tampa on Thursday, the Fire will return to Chicago on Friday for an extended weekend stay in the Windy City before departing for its second leg of the preseason - a 10-day trip to Guadalajara, Mexico - on Tuesday, Mar. 1. The Fire's leading goal scorers in the "Sunshine State" were Nate Jaqua and Chris Rolfe with three tallies each, while four players - Chad Barrett, Will John, Boyzzz Khumalo and Thiago - shared the club lead in assists with two helpers.

Chicago Fire Preseason Notes

  • The Fire family would like to congratulate defender C.J. Brown and his wife, Kim, on the birth of the couple's second daughter, Kali Anh Brown, this evening in San Jose, CA. Kali was born just after 5:00 p.m. CT and measured in at seven pounds and 19 inches. Mother, daughter and defender are all reported as doing well. The birth comes exactly one year after the couple's first daughter, Canessa, was born. Brown left the Fire's training camp on Wednesday to join his family.

  • Tonight's event in Tampa gave Fire forward Damani Ralph a chance to reunite with former UCONN assistant coach George Kiefer, who is now the head coach of the men's soccer program at the University of South Florida. Ralph and Kiefer were both a part of the 2001 Huskies squad that brought that year's College Cup title back to Storrs during Ralph's junior season.

    Chicago Lineup (4-4-2): GK-Zach Thornton (Matt Pickens 46), D-Kelly Gray (Hollis Donaldson 72), D-Jim Curtin (Denny Clanton 75), D-Jack Stewart, D-Leonard Griffin (Gonzalo Segares 65), M-Will John, M-Jesse Marsch (Scott Buete 56), M-Thiago (Chris Rolfe 69), M-Justin Mapp (Boyzzz Khumalo 75), F-Andy Herron (Chris Karcz 75), F-Nate Jaqua (Chad Barrett 62).

    Kansas City Lineup (4-4-2): GK-Bo Oshoniyi (Will Hesmer 60), D-Jose Burciaga Jr., D-Jimmy Conrad (Taylor Graham 72), D-Nick Garcia, D-Alex Zotinca (Brian Roberts 86), M-Diego Walsh (Preki 65), M-Kerry Zavagnin, M-Justin Detter, M-Chris Klein (Jay Alberts 76), F-Davy Arnaud, F-Josh Wolff (Edwin Ruiz 65).

    Scoring Summary:
    KC - Josh Wolff (penalty kick) 41
    KC - Davy Arnaud (Diego Walsh) 51
    KC - Davy Arnaud (unknown) 52
    CHI - Andy Herron 1 (Gonzalo Segares 1) 75