Player evaluation was the name of the game in the Fire's 2-0 loss to F.C. Atlas Wednesday at the Mexican side's Colomos training facility in Guadalajara. With the regular season kickoff inching closer, head coach Carlos de los Cobos put out a mixed side of starters and trialists as he and Technical Director Frank Klopas begin to make final decisions about the Fire's 2010 roster.
Putting out most of their first team, Atlas came out strong from the opening whistle, controlling possession and locking the Fire into a defensive posture for the beginning of the first half. The pressure paid off when Atlas won a free kick 25 yards from Jon Busch's net. Midfielder Carlos Balcazar stepped up and curved the chance past the goalkeeper in the 32nd minute.
The Fire responded to the goal with good possession play through the end of the first half but were unable to muster a significant chance on goal.
The second half saw one substitution with Dutch trialist Collins John entering the match for Krzysztof Krol, shifting the formation to a 3-5-2, as the Fire looked for the equalizer. The Windy City club dominated in possession, playing quickly throughout midfield as they looked for the equalizer but were stymied by the Atlas backline throughout the second half, adding little in the way of scoring chances.
In the 65th minute, Atlas doubled their lead when substitute Jonathan Piña connected on a through ball out of the back. Along on goal, the striker rounded Busch, and finished into an empty Fire net, completing the scoring.
"This has been a culmination of our Mexico trip," said Technical Director Frank Klopas. "We played a very good team and in preseason, results aren't what's important. We've used each match to evaluate the players and the way they fit with our strategy. Further, we look to make sure the analysis we've taken from training translates on the field. There were good moments and bad moments in this game and overall we're pleased with the progress we've made during our time here."
The Fire (2-1-1 in preseason) travel to Jackson, MS on Thursday afternoon to begin preparation for Sunday's friendly with MLS foe FC Dallas in suburban Ridgeland. The fifth match of Fire preseason kicks off at 3pm CT.
Fire Starting Lineup: Jon Busch, Tim Ward, trialist Cristian Moran, Wilman Conde, Krzysztof Krol, Logan Pause, Justin Mapp, John Thorrington, Patrick Nyarko, Justin Mapp, Jose Luis, Aaron Padilla