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CHICAGO (July 9, 2022) – Chicago Fire FC II rebounded from a road loss with a 3-0 road victory against FC Cincinnati 2 on Sunday evening. Richard Fleming III and Javier Casas, Jr. scored their first goals of the MLS NEXT Pro season, while Josh Penn added his fifth tally. The goal supported a clean sheet for goalkeeper Chris Brady, who played in his first match for the team since returning from national team duty with the United States at the 2022 Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Championship in Honduras.

The match started with the home side having the lion’s share of possession, requiring Brady to make a point blank save in the seventh minute, among other plays away from his line. Brady’s goalkeeping settled the defense and soon, the Fire started pressing in the opposing half. In the 27th minute, the press forced a turnover that Casas, Jr. utilized to slip a through ball to Fleming III. The midfielder then took two touches behind the defense to hit an unstoppable strike to the far post. The goal was his first of the season, and comes only one week after his first assist of the season in Miami.

In the 36th minute, Josh Penn caught the home defense flat footed on a free kick, finding an open Charlie Ostrem, who then played it back to Casas, Jr. The first team midfielder then rifled a shot from the top of the box to the left of a diving Nico Campuzano. The goal was his first of the season and came only minutes after his first assist of the campaign. Although Cincinnati tried to get a goal back and cut the Fire lead, the visiting team went into the break with a 2-0 goal lead.

The Fire came out with a similar intensity in the second half, but Cincinnati’s adjustments turned the match into a stalemate. But the Fire press did not relent, and in the 64th minute, another turnover gave the ball to Penn, who calmly slotted home the team’s third goal of the match. Penn’s effort tied him with Victor Bezerra for the team’s season goal lead with five, while the play marked Sergio Oregel, Jr.’s second assist of the year. With the Fire holding a three goal advantage, the team offered Cincinnati few looks in their own half, and Brady’s strong play preserved his third clean sheet of the season for Chicago Fire FC II.

NEXT GAME: Chicago Fire FC II will return home to SeatGeek Stadium next Sunday, July 17 to face Orlando City B. First kick is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CT and will be streamed live on MLSNEXTPro.com.

Social: Twitter - @ChicagoFireNext (Hashtags: #ChicagoFireII) | Instagram - @chicagofirenext | Facebook

Box Score:

FC Cincinnati 2 0 - 3 Chicago Fire FC II

Goals:
CHI - Fleming III (1) (Casas Jr. 1) 27’
CHI - Casas Jr. (1) (Ostrem 4) 36’
CHI - Penn (5) (Oregel, Jr. 2) 64’

Discipline:
CHI - Monis (Yellow Card) 66’
CIN - Penagos (Yellow Card) 72’
CHI - Kidd (Yellow Card) 76’

Chicago Fire FC II: GK Brady; D Ostrem, D Quintos, D Ritaccio, D J. Reynolds (Baumgartner, 71’); M Casas, Jr. (Kidd, 58’), M Oregel, Jr. (M. Rodríguez, 65’), M Fleming III; F Penn (Flores, 75'), F V. Bezerra (Alvarado, 65’), F Glasgow (Monis, 65’)

Subs not used: GK Mišković

FC Cincinnati 2: GK Campuzano; D Bailey, D Markanich (Martin, 52’), D Thomas, D Marshall; M Robledo, M Sánchez (Dreas, 85’) M Flanagan, M Ordóñez (Daley, 45’), M Akindele (Touray, 82’); F Atanga (Penagos, 59’)

Subs not used: GK Walters, D Noverr, M McHenry

Stats Summary:

CIN / CHI

Shots: 10 / 20
Shots on Goal: 2 / 6
Passing Accuracy: 75.5% / 80.1%
Saves: 3 / 3
Corners: 6 / 8
Fouls: 8 / 13
Offsides: 2 / 1
Possession: 45.9% / 54.1%

Referee: Luis Arroyo
Assistant Referee 1: Chris Schurfranz
Assistant Referee 2: Eric Burton
Fourth Official: Kevin Fikar

Postgame Quotes

Chicago Fire FC II Head Coach Ludovic Taillandier

On the team bouncing back from last week and his thoughts on the result…

“That was the whole idea today, to give their best effort in the beginning and to keep going all the way to the end of the game. To start strong and finish strong, those were the two objectives. In general, we are able to start strong, we rarely win second halves; today, we won the first and we won the second half. Those were pretty much the two objectives again, to start strong, which we didn't exactly do. I would say Chris Brady kept us in the game in the beginning with a great save. After that, we had good control all the way to halftime. Beginning of the second half, we started dropping a little bit, I think to resist a little lower on the field, which we did, because physically, we needed to serve and to have players come in from the bench to bring more energy. That's what they did. And you know, that was a strong finish with the two objectives and I think that was pretty much good on both sides.”

On the contributions of Richard Fleming III and Javier Casas…

“Yeah, they are definitely players that work a lot on the field, that help with attack, help the defense. We play with three midfielders that we ask them a lot, to go to the attack. Again, to potentially give us assists, scoring goals and we also ask them to be able to help to defend the box, that's a lot of effort. It's good to have them going higher on the field and potentially score goals or so because they can create turnovers and press high up the field, so we can win the ball high up the field and get into situations to score goals. Very happy for those two, they worked out, then they deserved it.”

On Chris Brady’s growth on and off the pitch…

“For sure. We saw Chris growing in the Academy and today he’s definitely a more mature person. Before speaking even about the goalkeeper, he grew in confidence and that's good to see that he's able now to perform at saving shots, but also with the feet, at starting to play from the back and being able to pass the ball from the back. It was a very solid performance from Chris for sure.”

Chicago Fire FC II Midfielder Javier Casas, Jr.

On scoring his first goal of the season in a winning effort…

“Yeah, I mean, I'm obviously very happy to score my first of this season, finally get on the scoresheet. I felt pretty comfortable, although it was one of the first games back in a little bit. But I felt great to finally get some minutes with the boys. I mean, obviously, I'm really happy for the goal but more importantly, we got the three points.”

\On the message from the coach prior to the match… \

“I think obviously, it was a tough loss for us in Miami last week. But I think the coach just continued telling us to be fearless out there on the pitch. You know, we looked back at some footage from the game and we corrected some of our mistakes. And I mean, I think it showed today in our performance. I think everybody played their role pretty well and the scoreline showed it. I think now, we just have to continue working hard and pushing for the three points at home next week to get a playoff spot.”