By ANTHONY ZILIS
Chicago Fire head coach Carlos de Los Cobos sat in the Toyota Park press box with a stern look on his face following the Fires 3-0 loss to Legia Warsaw in the Sister Cities Tournament.
It was clear de Los Cobos didn’t treat the tournament as a series of friendly matches as much as an opportunity for his club to get past a series of disappointing matches.
His team, though, once again failed to come out on top.
“When you’re facing a team that’s capable, when we give them the freedom to play the way we gave them the freedom to play in the second half, you’re always at risk,” he said through a translator, abandoning his broken English in the wake of his team’s tournament-long goal-scoring drought.
It wasn’t that de Los Cobos was upset about his team being completely dominated or even outplayed.
The Fire started an abnormal lineup, but the score was tied for the first 58 minutes of the game. Rookies Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Corben Bone started along with Justin Mapp, who hadn’t played since May 1, and Deris Umanzor, who has played sparingly since signing with the Fire early this season. Logan Pause also started at right back,
“(We had) some tired legs, some people like me who hadn’t played in a while, fatigue a little bit, some breakdowns, we just didn’t finish our chances, I guess,” Mapp said.
“I actually thought we did alright for the first 60 or 70 minutes, then we didn’t finish our chances.”
The Fire couldn’t convert on any of their 23 shots. Warsaw took only 10.
In the 59th minute, Maciej Rybus sent a low cross from the corner of the penalty area to Maceij Iwanski, who was standing at the top of the box. Iwanski took a touch and slotted the ball into the lower right corner of the goal to open up the scoring.
Throughout the half, de Los Cobos inserted starters Wilman Conde, Collins John, Marco Pappa and Brian McBride, but even with almost their full first-team lineup on the field, the Fire weren’t able to produce.
Warsaw’s second goal came in the 69th minute, after Wilman Conde, who eluded two challenges as he dribbled in circles, gave up the ball to Marciej Gorski. Gorski then sent a through ball to Sebastian Szalachowski, who sprung completely free of the Fire defense and beat Fire goalkeeperDykstra.
Szalachowski finally closed out the scoring in the 89th minute to make it 3-0, creating a lopsided scoreline that didn’t quite tell the story of the game.
“All I can say is that’s soccer,” Bone said. “We had a lot of chances. I think the shot count is 23 to 10, and we didn’t put ours away and they did. So that’s unfortunate. I think we kind of let down a little bit in the second half. The energy was a little bit less than it was, but that’s soccer.”
News and Notes
With Mike Banner’s good form on the left side in the two-game tournament, the left-footed Mapp played on the right side in his first game after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Mapp said he’s comfortable on the right side and even thinks certain aspects of the position help his game.
“Being left-footed, (playing on the right) gives you that ability to cut in and do some different things as opposed to being on the left,” Mapp said. “I enjoy it. We’ll see what happens.”
Mapp’s ball-handling looked sharp as ever at points throughout the match, but he was late a few times on through-passes to Bone, who was called offside twice early in the match.
On one such occasion, Mapp held the ball as Bone tried to make a run into open space. A pass may have sprung Bone on a breakaway, and he pointed both of his hands at his feet, looking frustrated.
Mapp finally sent Bone a ball on the right side, which Bone was able to cross to a sliding Stefan Dimitrov, who was in on goal. Dimitrov slid and stuck the ball just over the bar.
It was just one of several effective runs for Bone, who looked comfortable playing in the midfield position behind the forward.
“It’s a great position for me,” he said. “I like to create problems for the defense in that spot, and I think that fits my qualities the best, getting the ball in between midfielder and defenses and turn and kind of create problems and through passes and whatnot, so I think it’s a great position for my type of player.”
The rookie out of Wake Forest should be expected to fill that type of position throughout his career, but Marco Pappa should play there for the time being, with de Los Cobos’ seemingly feeling good about Banner’s play on the left.
Watson-Siriboe was another rookie who de Los Cobos thought played well. The big defender was a target on corner kicks and free kicks, making contact with approximately a half-dozen headers, although he never challenged goalkeeper Kostyantyn Makhonovskyi.
Pause was another interesting story as he played right back. De Los Cobos may be looking for a new fit for the Fire’s usual defensive midfielder as John Thorrington prepares to return from injury.
In the tournament championship, Red Star Belgrade beat Paris St. Germain in seven rounds of penalty kicks.
The shootout came after Paris St. Germain’s Marcos Ceara tied the game in stoppage time with a driven shot from the left corner of the penalty area over goalkeeper Sasa Stemenkovic and just underneath the crossbar.
The game went straight to penalties, when each team made its first six from the spot.
Controversy arose after the third Red Star Belgrade kicker, Milos Trifunovic, stopped before kicking, causing the goalkeeper to dive to the ground as Trifunovic kicked the ball past him. A common misconception is that this is an infringement, however there is no mention of this rule in FIFA’s 2010 Laws of the Game.
On the seventh kick, Jean-Eudes Maurice’s kick to the left side of the goal was saved.
Milan Jeremic then buried his kick, sending the section of about 1,500 Red Star fans into a frenzy.
I’m very thrilled to see all these people come from all over the country, and I think with support like this the club has a terrific future,” Red Star defender and captain Slavoljub Dordjevic said.