Fire end losing streak, close out out SuperLiga with win

Fire end losing streak, close out out SuperLiga with win

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Fire end losing streak, close out out SuperLiga with win

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BY ANTHONY ZILIS

The Fire's SuperLiga performance can only be viewed as disappointing. Last season's runner-up in the tournament, Chicago was eliminated after the first two games.

Still, even though Tuesday's 1-0 win against Pumas was meaningless in the tournament table, it was nice for the Fire to taste victory for the first time in July.

"It didn't mean anything in terms of making it to the next round, we took a step in the right direction," said Fire assistant coach Mike Matkovich. "We'll build on that going forward."

It was a combination of the Fire's All Stars that got them on the board in the 35th minute, when Marco Pappa's corner kick found the head of defender Wilman Conde, who was wide open at the back post.

The goal was one of only two Fire shots on goal, though, and they sat back on defense for most of the second half.

"We won, but second half we just sat back and defended," forward Collins John said."As a striker you get a little frustrated."

Something the Fire did get out of the tournament was experience for a fewyoung players, something head coach Carlos de los Cobos said was deficient in the 5-1 opening loss to Morelia.

Rookies Sean Johnson and Corben Bone both started for the second straight game and both impressed. Bone was one of the Fire's lone facilitators, while Johnson looked confident on crosses and made one diving save on Oscar Rojas's shot from 20 yards.

While Bone seems unlikely to keep his starting spot with Mexican midfielder Nery Castillo set to arrive in the coming weeks, Johnson has made his case to start in front of fellow youngster Andrew Dykstra.

"It's a competition. Any time you play well, you're going to be considered," Matkovich said. "He put two good games in a row, so we'll see. Carlos has some tough decisions to make. All of us as a coaching staff have some tough decisions to make."

For Pumas, the trip to the United States proved unsuccessful, aside from the chance to play in front of scores of fans that made up a majority of the 9,429 in attendence.

The Mexican side finished in last place in the group, with their only point coming against Morelia.

"I don't think it was a good match, we lacked intensity," Pumas head coach Guillermo Vazquez said. "(The Fire) were very disciplined, they never lost their order."

The main positive the Fire can take out of Tuesday's match, though – they finally ended their four-game losing streak.

Momentum is huge for the Fire as they prepare play the league-leading Galaxy following the All-Star break.

"You need confidence going in to playing the Galaxy," John said. "I'm glad we got three points, I'm very positive, very happy, because when you lose five games in a row and you go to LA, there's going to be problems."

Fire notes

John played his first two games since June 9 in the final two games of the SuperLiga.

Despite not being happy about his lack of scoring chances and the Fire's lack of offense, John is happy with his form.

"I know time flies, but it was 7 weeks ago since I last played, so my form's pretty impressive right now," he said. "I'm just a little bit frustrated, I'm not getting any goals right now. I  guess I just have to live with it, that's the way we play right now."

It's that style that has led to a lack of a goal from a forward since May 27, when Brian McBride scored against Dallas.

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The Fire hope to have a press conference to introduce Nery Castillo on Friday, after he works out his visa issues with the American consolate in Greece.

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The Fire had only four players on their bench and used every field player available.

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Johnson commented on the possibility of becoming the Fire's starting goalkeeper after the game.

"It's always an option," Johnson said. "I'm just going to to my best to push Andrew if he's number one. If I'm number one I'm sure he'll do the same. At the end of the day, it's the coach's decision so all I can do is train hard, and when I get the opportunity to play, play well."

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