Chicago Fire Homegrown player Harry Shipp was the difference tonight as his goal and assist powered the Chicago Fire to an easy 2-0 over D.C. United at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Shipp, who just finished his sophomore year at Notre Dame, scored three minutes into the second half as Chicago’s reserve players easily controlled United’s reserves. Trialist Grant Ward (Tottenham Spurs) scored from a very nice assist from Shipp in the 80th minute to seal the victory.
Both squads came out with essentially their starting lineups, minus a few key players for each team. United had the better opportunities early in the half as Eddie Johnson squandered a two-on-one break with Nick DeLeon and in the 23rd minute Fabian Espindola sent Davy Arnaud in all alone on Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson but his angled volley flew harmlessly wide. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was called upon to make two very nice saves from Anangano and Dilly Duka to keep the game scoreless into halftime.
After the break both teams switched out their entire lineups with the exception of Taylor Kemp who came on for United in the 32nd minute for Cristian Fernandez who was kept to a 30-minute timetable from the coaching staff. Fernandez had only been with the team since early Friday morning and his subsequent signing with the team yesterday afternoon.
Chicago, who carried the balance of play in the first half, were even more in control in the second. Just three minutes into the half Benji Joya, signed via the waiver draft lottery earlier this week, stung a shot off the post and Shipp was the quickest to react just beating Steve Birnbaum to the ball and poking the ball into the goal. United tried to get themselves back into the match but the relative unfamiliarity of the reserve group showed in more ways than one as they simply could not put any possession together and they barely crossed midfield with the ball without lumping the ball from the back line.
United’s best chance to equalize came midway through the second half on one of United’s few sustained sequences. Good work down the right flank by Christiano Francois created an opening and his pass to the penalty spot was right on the foot of Luis Silva but Chicago defender Patrick Ianni intervened at the critical moment and slid Silva’s attempt out of danger. Aside from a wayward shot from Kyle Porter about ten minutes later, that was the result of United’s efforts for the night in the offense third of the field.
Chicago wrapped the match up in the 80th minute when Shipp outclassed Birnbaum down the left flank and his pass through traffic in the penalty area met Ward in stride who easily stroked it into the net for the final nail in United’s coffin.
United will remain in Bradenton for another week and will play the Fire again on Wednesday morning at 10am in a match that will not be streamed live by the club. Perhaps Ben Olsen can draw a better performance from his club as so far through two preseason matches, there doesn’t seem to be much difference from United’s 3-win campaign from last year. Early days for sure, but continued impotence is not what Olsen was looking for on this trip.