LONDON (February 12, 2015)—The Chicago Fire Soccer Club wrapped up its preseason trip to England with a 1-0 win over a Queens Park Rangers side at the Imperial College Sports Ground on Thursday. Forward Quincy Amarikwa accounted for the lone goal in a match that featured 21 different players for the Men in Red.
The Fire got on the board in the 15th minute of the match when Shaun Maloney played a perfectly timed ball to Harry Shipp on the left side of the field. The Homegrown midfielder calmly slipped the ball into the box for Amarikwa, who avoided QPR netminder Alex McCarthy and slotted it home to give the Men in Red the lead.
Quincy Amarikwa Nets Game-Winner vs. QPR
Just minutes later, Fire ‘keeper Sean Johnson -- who joined camp Monday after his work at the U.S. Men’s National Team January camp -- was called into action, making a diving save to push the QPR shot out to safety.
The Fire nearly doubled the lead in the second half when midfielder Greg Cochrane found Michael Stephens at the top of the penalty area, but the Naperville native’s right-footed blast ricocheted off the crossbar.
Johnson made a number of key saves in the waning moments, including an acrobatic parry over the crossbar of a Reece Grego-Cox effort, to preserve the shutout as the match ended 1-0.
The QPR lineup featured several members of the Premier League club’s First Team, with Alex McCarthy, Armand Traore, Eduardo Vargas, Adel Taarabt and Mauro Zarate all starting alongside Sandro, who stepped up his return from injury with 60 more minutes under his belt.
The Men in Red return to Chicago on Feb. 13 and will train in market before closing out preseason from Feb. 19 to March 1 in Portland, Ore. The Fire are one of several MLS sides competing in The 2015 Simple Invitational, with scheduled matches against Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps SC, as well as Norwegian Tippeligaen club Stabaek, led by former Fire Head Coach Bob Bradley. Tickets for The 2015 Simple Invitational are available at www.timbers.com.
Chicago Fire 1 – 0 Queens Park Rangers
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Lovel Palmer (Kingsley Bryce* 46’), Jeff Larentowicz © (Matt Polster 46’), Eric Gehrig (Danny Gabbidon* 46’), Joevin Jones (Greg Cochrane 46’); Franck Songo’o* (Chris Ritter 46’), Matthew Watson (Albert Edwards*46’), Alou Diarra* (Michael Stephens 46’), Harry Shipp (Razvan Cocis 46’), Shaun Maloney (Alex 46’), Quincy Amarikwa (Guly do Prado 46’)
QPR: Alex McCarthy, Jordan Gibbons, Jamie Sendles-White (Trialist 46), Michael Doughty (Cole Kpekawa 30), Armand Traore, Eduardo Vargas (Trialist 46), Sandro (Trialist 61), Michael Petrasso, Reece Grego-Cox, Adel Taarabt, Mauro Zarate.
CHI – Quincy Amarikwa (Harry Shipp, Shaun Maloney) 15’
Frank Yallop -- Postgame Teleconference
On the form of GK Sean Johnson...
"He played well today. He had probably two or three saves he had to make and he made a great job of that. Commanding, did fine. He's only played 45 minutes last season and that was 45 minutes with the National Team (Sunday), so for him to come in and be sharp and play like he did I thought was great. It was good to have him back. We've got one left to come in, that's David Accam, so I'm excited about that. He'll report probably in Portland, because he's got his visa to sort out. All in all, real happy with today's performance."
On Kennedy Igboananike...
"He got a knock in training yesterday. I always try not to risk players. He should be fine in two or three days to continue training but he's a little sore. Same Adailton, he tweaked his ankle a little bit on Monday. It's precautionary for both guys."
On Shaun Maloney missing training yesterday...
"He had his visa appointment in London and then I wanted to get him 45 minutes today, and he did well. He will not be traveling back [with the team], we expect him to travel back in the early or middle of next week. The problem you have is that Shaun we had to get late in January, so this is going to happen. David had the African Nations Cup so we couldn't get things done before those two things happen. It's just normal stuff. We'll have everybody in Portland, we've got three good games and maybe a practice game where we can get ready for our first [MLS] game, which is an important one in LA."
On how Shaun Maloney is managing the transition to the club...
"Excellent. He's a great pro. He doesn't say anything negative. He just wants to work well for himself and the club. Whatever we ask him to do he just does immediately. He wants to practice every time, I'm the one who's got to pull him out when he's been running around and tell him, 'Listen, you can't train today because you traveled in three hours in the car.' He's a joy to work with."
On what was accomplished in this leg of the preseason...
"It's a big thing for the first leg of the preseason. For sure it's fitness and getting up to soccer speed, if you like, making sure guys will be ready to play 90 minutes when asked. That was the main thing about this. Then we looked at a couple of guys who we brought in [to evaluate]. They got 45 minutes today, a couple of them in our first group. I always think, the quality of player we're looking at, we like to get them in with the quality of players they'll be playing with. It's two phases: looking at what we have and getting game-fit, really sharp for our next phase in Portland. We're honing down the system and the philosophy. It's been great, we're playing at a really high level, we're tough to break down and beat. We played two games against two pretty good sides, and I know it's early and you probably heard me say the same thing last year, but we're making teams earn their chances which is important right now."
On Alou Diarra's play in camp...
"I thought he did a nice job in the middle of the field. He's obviously a very experienced player so it was an opportunity to look at him close up. He's played at all levels and for his country many times. For him just to join us and not worry about his stature, just come in and help the guys, I thought he did a nice job. He plays in a position where he's a bit of an expert, he's a holding midfielder, breaks plays up, moves the ball quick, and he played well. It's only 45 minutes and you can't judge a guy on that so we'll see how the next phase of the decision goes. I need to talk to him, see where his head's at, see what we're looking at and make a calculated decision on it."
On Kingsley Bryce playing at right back after playing forward in college...
"I don't know why, but I looked at him and thought he looked like a right back. I played him in the Norwich game and I thought he did a good job. Very athletic, quick, made it difficult for them to hold it, he's an attacking right back. I see him as a right-sided midfielder anyway so he's got versatility. He did OK today, he's in our squad so I'm going to move him around a little bit, see him in that right back position and he's done OK."