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CHICAGO (June 4, 2022) – Chicago Fire FC II fell to Eastern Conference leaders Columbus Crew 2 by a score of 4-2 on Saturday evening. Despite first half goals by Alex Monis and Josh Penn, the visitors scored four unanswered goals in the second half to come away with three points. Penn’s fourth tally of the season makes him the Fire’s leading goal scorer.

The Fire started the evening with plenty of possession, which Allan Rodriguez took advantage of in the 11th minute. Holding the ball in midfield, Rodriguez lofted a pass to Monis that found the Columbus defense flat-footed. Monis then rounded the goalkeeper to score the opening goal of the match, and his third goal of the campaign. Penn then doubled the lead nine minutes later, taking advantage of a give away for his fourth goal in two games.

The teams went into the break with the Fire on top, but the Crew immediately got to work. Only two minutes into the second half, Marco Micaletto hit the upper 90 from beyond the box to put his team on the board. Twenty minutes later, the cross bar would deny Penn his second goal of the match; the ensuing play led to Mohamed Farsi delivering a ball across goal to Noah Fuson, who tapped it in to tie the match.

With the match even at two, both teams vied for possession of the ball, and the Fire had an opportunity to regain the lead when Alex Monis hit the post with a header in the 78th minute. But the Crew took advantage of the numbers in their box, quickly hitting back on a counter that ended Ryan Telfer’s first goal of the season. A similar situation would ensue three minutes later, as Columbus once again scored on a counter, this time hit home by leading scorer Jacen Russell-Rowe. The Fire had opportunities afterward, including an 84th minute Noeh Hernandez shot that required a diving stop, but it would not be enough to avoid defeat.

NEXT GAME: Chicago Fire FC II return to Bridgeview next weekend and host St. Louis City 2 on June 11, 2022. The game is slated to start at 7pm CST. All MLS NEXT Pro regular season matches will also be streamed live on mlsnextpro.com.

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

Box Score:
Chicago Fire FC II 2-4 Columbus Crew 2

Goals:
CHI - Monis (3) (A. Rodriguez 1) 11’
CHI - Penn (4) 20’
CLB - Micaletto (3) (Angking 1, Farsi 4) 47’
CLB - Fuson (5) (Farsi 5) 68‘
CLB - Telfer (1) (Russel-Rowe 2) 78’
CLB - J. Russel-Rowe (7) (Micaletto 2) 81‘

Discipline:
CLB - Marco Micaletto (Yellow Card) 50’
CHI - Josh Penn (Yellow Card) 73’

Chicago Fire FC II: GK Mišković; D Ostrem, D Quintos (Hernandez, 72’), D Ritaccio ©, D Baumgartner; M Kidd (Alvarado, 54’) , M A. Rodriguez, M Fleming III; D Penn, F M. Rodríguez (L. Bezerra, 72’), F Monis

Subs not used: GK Katsimpalis; M Flores, M Kocs-Washburn; F Viera

Columbus Crew 2: GK Schulte; D Strachan, D Malou (Vang, 63’), D Mohamed, D Morris (Telfer, 46’), D Farsi; M Angking (Wolf, 88’), M Zawadzki, M Micaletto; F Russell-Rowe (Scarlett, 89’), F Fuson

Subs not used: GK Lapkes; D Miller; M Borneo; F Kamara, F Gannon

Stats Summary:
CHI / CLB

Shots: 13 / 13
Shots on Goal: 4 / 6
Passing Accuracy: 79.2% / 74.3%
Saves: 2 / 2
Corners: 3 / 3
Fouls: 9 / 12
Offsides: 2 / 3
Possession: 57.9% / 42.1%

Referee: Erin Patterson

Assistant Referee 1: Jacob Little

Assistant Referee 2: John Krill

Fourth Official: Rebecca Pagan

Postgame Quotes

Chicago Fire FC II Head Coach Ludovic Taillandier

On his thoughts on tonight’s tough result…

“Tough result. The contrast between the two halves, if I were staying positive I would speak about the first one saying that we started the game the right way. We were consistent in three-fourths in the communication between the players. We defended pretty well on the ball with the position that we want to have. It was not exactly there but it was not bad. Then again we started well again. That's clear here in our mind. After the end of the field half, it started going down a little bit, we dropped and they are a very physical, physical team. This team is a good team. They were able to put a level of pressure on us that at some point we started probably being a little tired. And that's when they started to push, to play a little where it hurts to try to bring numbers with speed to the front and we are not always able to respond to transition from the attack to the defense and they were able to counter attack us a lot. To play fast, to keep the rhythm going up. And that's where we could not exactly compete to the end of the game. Two very different halves. The first one is pretty good, the second one, they took it.”

On how they can learn from tonight and move onto next week…

“Yeah, no, look, it's another game, I told them. Like if I speak about the performance, there were moments in this game that I think showed that we are growing. We are great in the game, in the league, we're able to compete. So not the whole game but again, this is on the top teams in the league. Columbus is a great team, I repeat. A lot of players with experience playing MLS and they are definitely a very, very good team. Then the lesson today is that we can compete for 30 minutes, 35 minutes, 45 minutes. So the whole idea is to try to push to raise the bar and to be able to compete against those teams at the top of the league the whole game and that's the objective starting the next game. There are a lot of positives today.

On the recent play from Josh Penn and his importance to the team…

“He's looked great for a while now. Giving assists and scoring goals. He’s a good forward. Then he's doing it. He's doing great right now and is again a very important player for the team, both sides of the ball because we ask him also to defend, defend going forward to try to put pressure on the ball. That's also something he commits to do and that's great. We are very happy with the general commitment of our team. I mean, it was good today.”

Chicago Fire FC II Forward Josh Penn

On adding another goal to his season tally…

“In the moment, it was a good feeling to get my team up, to get us going. We had a good start but it was frustrating to not finish stronger.”

On his thoughts on tonight’s disappointing result…

“There’s gonna be a lot to look back on and a lot to learn from. I would say the first 35 minutes, we were the better team by quite a bit and then for whatever reason, we took our foot off the gas and in the second half they came out stronger and they wanted it more. So I think it’s a mentality thing and wanting to win the game more than the other team. We’ll look back and learn from it.”

On what he learned from tonight's result…

“I think it’s just learning that hunger. We have a lot of young guys and there’s still a lot to learn, a lot to develop. Yeah, we can look at tactics and learn how we could’ve defended better and attacked better. But at the end of the day, it was just the team that wanted it more. So hopefully we can continue developing that hunger and eagerness to win.”