Soccer Sports News and Scores by From The Tunnel

New version Fire fall short in opener with 4-3 loss to NYCFC

New York City FC's Andrea Pirlo controlled the midfield as NYCFC defeated the Chicago Fire 4-3 in the Fire's season opener at Toyota Park on Sunday. (Photo by Carmen Salerno)

The restocked, retooled Chicago Fire started a new season with a new coach, Veljko Paunovic but unfortunately the red side picked up where they ended last season, with a loss. Despite a hope-filled preseason, the Fire came up short to New York City FC, 4-3, on the opening day of the MLS 2016 season.

“The good news is that we are creating so much chances, so much opportunities,” said Paunovic. “But we still have to score goals. Those are so important, especially for games like today.”

In a surprise move, Paunovic started former Columbus Crew goalkeeper Matt Lawson rather than long time starter Sean Johnson.

“It’s a day-by-day move … Matt had his opportunity against Portland (in the preseason) and the team felt comfortable with him playing at the goal and playing out of the back,” said Paunovic. “But still Matt, for me, he did very well. He tried to do his best. He’s always giving the best of him so that’s what we ask of him and all our players.”

NYCFC opened the scoring 10 minutes into the game giving rise to questions about the decision. Although little fault lies with Lampson as the defense didn’t give him much support.

Thomas McNamara was left open in the center of the attacking area with the ball. McNamara whirled and fired a high curving shot off the right post into the net and it was 1-0 NYCFC.

Razvan Cocis came back at the 18 minute mark to tie the game off a nice long feed from Arturo Alvarez. But the Fire’s confused defense allow NYCFC to take the lead back. Michael Harrington and Joao Meira collided allowing Tony Taylor a clear shot from the front of the frame to give NYCFC a 2-1 lead in the 29th minute.

Khiry Shelton ran down a long ball from Mix Diskerud and headed for the Fire net. Fire defender Brandon Vincent pulled up short allowing Shelton to pop a short shot past the helpless Lampson. NYCFC took a 3-1 lead into the half.

“We have to work together and the teamwork is what it takes to defend well,” said Paunovic. “But it’s the first game and we will improve.”

David Accam came out strong in the second half. He stole the ball from Frederic Brillant and sent a cross to Kennedy Igboananike who parked the ball in the net to cut the lead to one goal early in the half.

Shelton was called for a handball and Accam scored on a penalty kick to close out the scoring in the 72nd minute.

“I had a good, solid week of training, and I felt I was good to play,” said Accam. “I showed today, even though my finishing wasn’t good, at least I gave my best for the team. I’m encouraged for what I have seen today.”

Sidelines: Italian superstar Andrea Pirlo played his first game at Toyota Park as a member of New York City FC. Pirlo was acquired by NYCFC on July 6, 2015 from Juventus, where he made 164 appearances, scoring 19 goals (15 on free kicks). He was a member of Italy’s 2008 World Cup championship team.

The 36 year-old from Piero, Italy, quickly became a fan favorite in the Big Apple, starting 12 of 13 games and registering five assists. In NYCFC’s 4-3 win over the Fire, Pirlo exhibited excellent peripheral vision of the pitch and deft passing roaming the midfield for the blue side.

The MLS is definitely getting better since I came to New York,” he said through an interpreter. “My family is enjoying themselves in the United States and we are very content being here.”

Pirlo is a wine connoisseur and runs his own vineyard in Italy, producing approximately 15-20,000 bottles a year.



Chicago Fire: Matt Lampson (GK), Johan Kappelhof, Brandon Vincent, Joao Meira, Michael Harrington (Rodrigo Ramos 66′), Arturo Alvarez, Kennedy Igboananike, Matt Polster, Razvan Cocis (Joey Calistri 81′), David Accam, Gilberto (Campbell 46′).

Substitutes not Used: Sean Johnson (GK), Colin Fernandez, Nick LaBrocca, Michael Stephens.

New York City FC: Josh Saunders (GK), Ronald Matarrita, Ethan White, Frederic Brillant, Jason Hernandez, Thomas McNamara, Mix Diskerud, Andrea Pirlo, David Villa (Capt.), Tony Taylor (Mikey Lopez 69′), Khiry Shelton (Federico Bravo 89′).

Substitutes not used: Erik Johansen (GK), Diego Martinez, Patrick Mullins, Kwadwo Poku, Medhi Ballouchy.

Scoring Summary

NYCFC: McNamara (Shelton) 10′
Chicago: Cocis (Alvarez) 19′
NYCFC: Taylor 29′
NYCFC: Shelton (Diskerud) 36′
Chicago: Igboananike (Accam) 49′
NYCFC: Diskerud (McNamara) 63″
Chicago: Accam (Penalty Kick) 72′

Attendance: 17,768


(Sunday, March 6)
New York City FC 4 @ Chicago Fire 3
Toronto FC 2 @ New York Red Bulls 0
Real Salt Lake 2 @ Orlando 2
Colorado Rapids 0 @ San Jose Earthquakes 1
New England Revolution 3 @ Houston Dynamo 3
Philadelphia Union 0 @ FC Dallas 2
Columbus Crew 1 @ Portland Timbers 2
Montreal Impact 3 @ Vancouver Whitecaps 2
Sporting KC 1 @ Seattle Sounders 0
D.C. United 1 @ Los Angeles Galaxy 4

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