Fire

John Goossens scores his first MLS goal in Fire win

John Goossens scores his first MLS goal in Fire win

John Goossens and Rodrigo Ramos were in the middle of most of the Fire's chances throughout the match so it only seemed fair that the pair would both factor into the game-winning goal on Friday.

In the 58th minute, Ramos crossed a ball into the box from the right side which was directed for Kennedy Igboananike. Igboananike didn't win the initial header, but it was headed out into the path of Goossens. Goossens drilled the ball with his first touch on his left foot and scored his first Major League Soccer goal.

That goal stood as the only one of the match in a 1-0 Fire win against the visiting San Jose Earthquakes.

"It was hard for the goalie to see the ball because Kennedy stepped over it," Goossens said. "So he was a bit late to react and that’s why it went in. I think it was a perfect time to score. We had a really good game. We had a lot of pressure on their back and in the end I think it was a great game.”

The Fire (3-7-5, 14 points) picked up a second win in three home matches and snapped a three-game winless streak in MLS play. A crowd of 16,487 watched the game and the fireworks that came after the match.

[MORE FIRE: John Goossens' return could be key for the Fire]

The first half featured a slow start, especially from the Fire. San Jose (5-5-7, 22 points) forwards Chris Wondolowski and Quincy Amarikwa were largely kept in check other than an Amarikwa header that forced a diving save from Sean Johnson.

Joao Meira and Kennedy Igboananike had powerful shots in the first half as part of a strong finish to the first half for the Fire. The Fire outshot San Jose 16-6 and had a 7-2 edge in shots on goal.

John Goossens nutmegged two Earthquakes in the first half and Rodrigo Ramos was very aggressive going forward at right back. Most of the Fire's attacking buildup came from those two on the right side.

"They executed a gameplan that we had and I think it was a fantastic game," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said of his team's performance. "I think we had the hero of the game for sure here (Goossens), scoring the goal and playing that way."

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Late in the game Fire forward David Accam and San Jose defender Fatai Alashe collided and went down immediately. After a stoppage, Accam got to his feet and returned. Alashe did not and San Jose, which was already out of subs finished the match with 10 men.

The Fire return to action next Saturday, July 9, in Toronto. Dutch forward Michael de Leeuw will be eligible to make his debut.

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

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USA TODAY

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

Coach Veljko Paunovic still went with a second-choice lineup to start the Fire's preseason match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Wednesday, but the second half featured the first preseason action for Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Schweinsteiger came on for the second half, along with Nemanja Nikolic, Johan Kappelhof and a few other Fire regulars. The German sat out the first four preseason games, but looked sharp in his 45 minutes.

One of the highlights was this smooth move between two defenders:

Schweinsteiger also had an impressive switch pass to set up a shot for second-round pick Diego Campos in the final minutes of the game. Campos drilled the shot on target, but was unable to beat the goalkeeper.

The team did not say Schweinsteiger was injured despite the repeated absences in matches. The Fire have dealt with injuries to Matt Polster, Luis Solignac, Daniel Johnson and rookie Grant Lillard this preseason. None of those four, along with Dax McCarty, played in the 0-0 draw.

The Fire next play Saturday at Orlando in a final match in Florida before returning to Chicago. The Fire also play Tulsa, the team's USL affiliate, at Toyota Park on March 3 before taking on Sporting Kansas City in the season opener on March 10.

Injuries affecting Fire's preseason with season three weeks away

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USA TODAY

Injuries affecting Fire's preseason with season three weeks away

It may be a good thing that the Fire’s originally scheduled season opener March 3 at Colorado got moved back.

The Fire’s preseason has been riddled with injuries to key players and the extra week may end up being needed to get the team ready for the season. Four players (not counting the already known long-term injuries to Michael de Leeuw and Djordje Mihailovic) sat out Saturday’s game against Florida Gulf Coast University due to injury: Daniel Johnson (a right ankle injury suffered in a game against Philadelphia on Feb. 8), Grant Lillard (left knee), Matt Polster (left knee) and Luis Solignac (left hip).

Polster’s injury is especially notable because he has had recurring left knee problems since first suffering a sprain in the 2016 season finale at Toronto. Polster missed the first nine games of 2017 due to the injury and missed three more in August due to a related injury.

The 24-year-old, who is now the longest tenured player on the team and the only player remaining from before general manager Nelson Rodriguez’s tenure began at the end of the 2015 season, arrived with the Fire after playing with the U.S. national team in January. He played all 90 minutes on Jan. 28 against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bastian Schweinsteiger still hasn’t played in the preseason and the team hasn’t listed him as injured.

All the absences, combined with rest for some of the team’s regulars, resulted in a starting lineup against Florida Gulf Coast that featured two players who have appeared in an official match with the Fire. Three trialists and four draft picks started.

Four of the Fire’s seven scheduled preseason matches are in the books. The Fire lost 2-1 to Montreal on Feb. 14. One of the bright spots was a rare set piece goal after the Fire trailed the Impact 2-0. Dax McCarty headed in a free kick from Diego Campos. Campos has been dangerous on set pieces, hitting the post with a free kick and assisting a goal from a corner kick in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Florida Gulf Coast.

Next up is a match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Feb. 21. Next Saturday the Fire play at Orlando to finish up play in Florida.

The Fire close out the preseason March 3 against the team’s USL affiliate, Tulsa, at Toyota Park before the season opener on March 10.