The preseason marched on with a second straight win for the Chicago Fire on Thursday afternoon.
The Fire beat the Philadelphia Union 1-0 at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Michael de Leeuw scored the game's only goal on a header in the 56th minute.
The match represented the first time the Fire played an MLS opponent this preseason, after beating Florida Gulf Coast University in the first preseason match. It also was the first time the anticipated midfield pairing of Juninho and Dax McCarty and the forward pairing of de Leeuw and Nemanja Nikolic played together. McCarty didn't play in the preseason opener because he was returning from national team camp while de Leeuw and Nikolic played in different halves at FGCU.
This time around the starting group played for over an hour and Nikolie and de Leeuw combined for the goal in the second half. Nikolic crossed from the right towards de Leeuw, who headed it on target. Union goalkeeper John McCarthy made the initial save, but de Leeuw was able to head in the rebound in the 56th minute.
Nikolic was replaced by Luis Solignac in the 64th minute and de Leeuw exited about 10 minutes later. De Leeuw mostly played underneath Nikolic, who was trying to play on the offside line. Nikolic put the ball in the net in the first half after de Leeuw took advantage of a Philadelphia turnover, but Nikolic was offside on de Leeuw's feed.
Another near goal came on a play started by rookie Daniel Johnson. Johnson cut into the edge of the box from the left side and set up Solignac, whose shot hit the post. David Arshakyan's rebound attempt went right to McCarthy.
As for the midfield pairing, McCarty was typically deeper than Juninho and was used as more of a point man to start attacks and maintain possession. Both players were subbed off in the 73rd minute. They were flanked by David Accam and Arturo Alvarez on the wings in a 4-4-2 formation.
Defensively, it's the second straight shutout of the preseason for the Fire. Johan Kappelhof and Joao Meira got the starts at center back while Patrick Doody played left back and Michael Harrington started at right back. Kappelhof played the longest of any Fire player, getting subbed off in the 80th minute. He played about 15 minutes at right back after Jonathan Campbell replaced Harrington in the second half.
Jorge Bava started for the second straight match in goal. Matt Lampson played the final half hour.
One player who did not take the field was recently signed homegrown player Djordje Mihailovic. Mihailovic is currently playing with the U.S. U-19 team. He scored in a friendly today against North American Soccer League team Miami FC. On Monday, Mihailovic played all 90 minutes in a 2-1 win against El Salvador's U-20.