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Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Fire stumble in 2nd half, fall to Chivas

By Charlie Corr

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The game had no implications, but the Chivas de Guadalajara fandom came out in full force in the loudest environment at Toyota Park this year.

Chivas' Jorge Mora scored a 61st-minute free kick goal and Guadalajara defeated the Chicago Fire, 1-0, in front of 18,224 at Wednesday's international friendly. It marked Chicago's second international loss this year, having fallen to Manchester United, 3-1, on July 23 at Soldier Field.

"It's one of those things where you don't like to lose," Fire defender Cory Gibbs said. "It's just unfortunate losing on a free kick. We just have to keep pressuring. For morale, it's not good."

Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas utilized this simply as another preparation tool toward Saturday's league match against Chivas USA. And for the first 45 minutes, the bulk of the Fire's first team held a significant possession advantage against Chivas' first team.

Chicago held a 4-1 shots on goal advantage in the first half, with an occasional chance at the goal.

Of Chicago's early scoring chances, Fire forward Diego Chaves had a fifth-minute attempt that was batted over the frame by Chivas goalkeeper Luis Ernesto Michel. In the 37th, Michel stopped a Marco Pappa attempt at the near right post.

The Fire brought in nine subs to open the second half, and about 15 minutes in Guadalajara gained the upper hand. Mora's free kick from about 25 yards out found the right side of the frame past Fire second-half goalkeeper Jon Conway.

In the grand scheme of things, the Fire wanted to get some reps for the younger bench players such as midfielder Victor Pineda and defender Pari Pantazopoulos, and forward Kellen Gulley who will not be involved in league play until the 2012 season. All three made their Toyota Park debuts.

"For the young guys, it's great for them, for their experience, for their development and for their growth," Klopas said. "It's a good opportunity for all the players to get in."

Heading into Saturday's home match against Chivas USA, the Fire will be without right back Dan Gargan (yellow card accumulation). Against Guadalajara, Chicago moved Jalil Anibaba to the right side and started Josip Mikulic at center back alongside Gibbs.

Though Mikulic had an incredibly shaky opening -- including one moment where he simply tripped on the grass -- he improved during the run of play and played the entire match. Mikulic also had one of Chicago's closest scoring chances in the second half, hitting the wrong side of the right netting in the 68th minute.