Chicago Fire: Aston Villa

Aston Villa beats Fire in exhibition

July, 21, 2012
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Gabriel Agbonlahor scored in the 29th minute and then left with an injury in the second half as Aston Villa beat the Chicago Fire 1-0 in an exhibition match Saturday night.

Agbonlahor went down clutching his left leg after spinning by a defender in the 63rd minute, screaming in pain. The trainer for the English Premier League team gingerly flexed Agbonlahor's leg, which caused more pain, and the forward was carted off.

Villa came out attacking, and the push paid off with Agbonlahor's goal. He headed the cross of defender Chris Herd past Chicago goalkeeper Jay Nolly from 10 yards out.

The Fire had been back on their heels before that. Midfielder Stephan Ireland narrowly missed scoring with a sliding kick in the box in the 12th minute, and midfielder Charles N'Zogbia shoved an even closer shot over the goal three minutes later.

Aside from defender Arne Frederich, Chicago played a lineup of backups from Nolly forward. The Fire brought in starters Dominic Oduro and Patrick Nyarko with 30 minutes to play, and added other regulars in the final minutes, but generated little offense.

Aston Villa started defender Eric Lichaj, one of its two Chicago-area-bred players, with recently re-signed goalkeeper Brad Guzan, entering with 11 minutes remaining. Lichaj played 57 minutes, his best play a sharp pass to N'Zogbia that nearly paid off with a goal.

The Lions launched their three-match exhibition tour of the U.S. by beating Philadelphia 1-0 on Wednesday. It concludes with a match at Portland on Tuesday.

Fire to host Premier League's Aston Villa

March, 27, 2012
The Chicago Fire will play host to seven-time English Premier League champion Aston Villa in an international friendly on July 21 at Toyota Park.

Aston Villa, which has won seven English Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, will make its first trip to Chicago. This is the second straight year the Fire will host an English Premier League team. They lost to Manchester United at Soldier Field last year.

Aston Villa features two former Fire Premier players, goalkeeper Brad Guzan, originally from Homer Glenn and defender Eric Lichaj, who is from Downers Grove.