The Chicago Fire played their first friendly of the preseason Thursday night, drawing Florida Gulf Coast University 2-2 in front of an estimated crowd of 600 at Ave Maria University.
The match – which was played in three 30-minute periods – saw a pair of second-period goals from midfielder Marco Pappa and defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe negated in the final frame.
“It was good to get out there against some different guys; it gave us an opportunity to compete in a bit of a different way,” Fire captain Logan Pause told MLSsoccer.com. “We’re obviously a bit disappointed with the result, but at this stage that’s not our primary focus. We’ve got other things in mind.”
The Fire began the match with Sean Johnson in goal; Jalil Anibaba, Josip Mikulic, Cory Gibbs and Gonzalo Segares in defense; Pause, Baggio Husidic, Patrick Nyarko and Daniel Paladini in midfield; and Gaston Puerari and trialist Gabriel Ferrari up top.
Pause said Chicago’s first team performed reasonably well, building up their fitness and chemistry during their 30 minutes on the field.
“It was a good exercise for us,” he said. “We created some pretty good chances to score and kind of kept them at bay a little bit. It was good. We were tinkering a little bit with how we were playing, but we got some fitness out of it and we tried to be sharp, and that’s kind of the important thing for us right now.”
Chicago’s next tune-up comes on Feb. 23, when they’ll take on longtime Eastern Conference rivals New York in a doubleheader at Ft. Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium.
“Moving forward we will see some tougher competition,” Pause said. “We will be challenged in different ways than we were tonight and that will be great; it’s something that we need. But tonight was definitely a good step. We just have to work on some things that didn’t look great and continue to work on some things that we were effective with and we’ll move forward.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.