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Fire ties Red Bulls, 1-1, in pre-season match

Marco Pappa 1 (Getty Images)


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Marco Pappa may have started the Chicago Fire's friendly against the New York Red Bulls on the bench, but he surely gave head coach Carlos de los Cobos something to think about with his second-half performance.

Entering at halftime in a game that was going New York's way, Pappa helped Chicago regain some possession as well as erase a 1-0 deficit. Pappa was a penalty kick away from potentially giving the Fire a victory, but his shot was saved by Bouna Coundoul, leaving the match at Lockhart Stadium to end 1-1 on a sunny Wednesday afternoon.

The miss didn't matter, though. Pappa's performance made a statement nonetheless.

"Huge player. Pappa is an all-star player, hands down. I've said it from day one," said Fire defender Cory Gibbs, who is a Ft. Lauderdale native and nearly scored off a header late in the game. "He's dealt with his fitness and getting back and his injuries and hands down one of our top players to be out there. He's a key part of our team and I think he showed exceptionally well today."

Trailing 1-0 to the Red Bulls after a shot by Joel Lindpere from 21 yards out crept inside the far post, Pappa entered the game for the Fire, and helped rejuvenize a team that had trouble stringing together more than two passes in the first half.

Pappa pulled Chicago level in the 59th minute when Patrick Nyarko, who was playing somewhat of a right wingback role, crossed a perfect ball to him. Unmarked, Pappa took a touch before cooly finishing.

Nyarko's assist was well-deserved as the Ghanaian caused havoc for the Red Bulls on the right flank. While his touch let him down on a couple of occasions, including on a first half chance that could have seen him through on goal, Nyarko was one of the most active Fire players on the field. He got forward well and caused problems for Roy Miller with his dribbling and quickness, and he also provided some defensive bite, especially during moments in the first half when the rest of Chicago's midfield looked lifeless.

Nyarko may have to continue to contribute more defensively if de los Cobos sticks to playing with the three-man backline that at times morphs into a four or five-man defense.

"That's just the tactics that we discussed before the game," said Sean Johnson. "I think we stuck to it and it worked well for us. We're trying out somethings to see what works for us and I think we'll be good for the start of the season." 

Johnson and Chicago's defense did allow a goal, but even that came on a pinpoint shot from distance from Lindpere, who had a stout performance. Other than that, Chicago's new defense frustrated the Red Bulls, who lacked creativity in the final third despite dominating most of the possession in the opening 45 minutes.

There were multiple signs that showed just how frustrated Red Bulls players were. From a needless shove-from-behind foul from Juan Agudelo to Thierry Henry's penchant to drop back into the midfield to try to inject himself into the game, the Fire's defense did enough to relatively stymie one of the most talented attacks in MLS.

"We couldn't really break them down but it was (nice) to play a team that defends well and perhaps we'll see that a lot anyhow when we play at home" said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe.

Backe might be grateful that his team met a stingy defense in the preseason, but he's likely even more pleased with the way his team moved the ball against Chicago.

From Tim Ream and Rafael Marquez in defense, to midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy, to substitute Dane Richards, nearly all of New Yorks' players looked technically sound in the 1-1 draw. Chicago's defense with the likes of Gibbs, Josip Mikulic and rookie Jalil Anibaba may have been tough to crack, but so too was the rhythm of New York's passing.

"I thought we played well for the first 70 minutes and then fatigue set in. Obviously, you've got to just keep building on your fitness base," said Ream, who played 90 minutes. "Other than that, I thought we moved the ball well again and hopefully we continue to do that."

Chicago Fire's starting eleven vs. New York Red Bulls' starting eleven:










Sidenote: Before the Red Bulls and Fire's first teams played to a 1-1 draw, the teams' reserves squared off in the morning. Three penalty kicks were awarded in a match that saw Chicago prevail, 4-2. All of Chicago's goals came from Orr Barouch, who enjoyed a splendid game, so much so that U.S. U-20 national team coach Thomas Rongen wanted to speak to Barouch following the match to get an update on his green card status. New York's goals came off a picture-perfect free kick from rookie John Rooney and a penalty kick from Corey Hertzog.


  1. I think everyones jumping the gun a bit with Davies as hes been injured and out of playing for a while there. Theres reason in believing he might not contribute quite as muhc as people think this season

  2. I think Jozy needs someone to give him a run for his money if the US is going to a 4-2-3-1. I wish Agudelo all the best, except when he plays the Fire.

  3. A DC fan agrees with this! Great season for US strikers all coming together in the league.

    However, MLS strikers have had the hardest time breaking into the US team and making a difference. So we’ll see..

  4. Yeah, we are building for the future.. and will probably still be better than you guys while we are doing that. Then next season, when Davies leaves, the DC hype will be gone and you guys will be back at the bottom of the table trying to figure out how your going to build your own stadium.

  5. From a USMNT standpoint, I hope that is New York’s lineup for the remainder of the season. having Agudelo develop next to a legend like Henry will do wonders for him skill-wise and with his professional attitude. not a NY fan by any means, but I’m excited to watch them this year nonetheless

  6. hahaha coming from a Dc United fan, I just can’t take this seriously. You are LUCKY to have Davies. But don’t forget, you won’t have him next season!

  7. Is that an up to date picture? i thought Best Buy did not renew the contract? I ask not to nit-pick, so much as to inquire—do the Fire still have a jersey sponsor?

  8. Union fan here, but was wondering if any Fire fans are traveling to Frisco for the home opener. I figure if we get a couple dozen people in the visitor supporter section we might out number the home support

  9. I found a report online speculating that Barouch is Israeli. Any more info on him out there? Charlie Corr discusses his performance but not the inevitable citizenship questions…

  10. I am glad to hear Ferrari did a decent job. I hope he and Zizzo do well this year. I’m not holding MNT hopes, but it is good to see Wallace, Sturgis, McCarty, Rogers and kids from that team who had potential turn it into professional careers for MLS. I mean if they don’t end up really helping the national team, at least they help the domestic league.


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