Home­grown Pineda lifts Fire to vic­tory

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS -

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Bol­ing­brook na­tive and home­grown player Mauri­cio Pineda scored in the 84th minute to give the Fire a 2-1 vic­tory Tues­day against the Sounders in the MLS is Back tour­na­ment.

Wide-open at the back post, Pineda caught Sounders goal­keeper Ste­fan Frei of­f­guard to score his first MLS goal. Seat­tle’s Hand­walla Bwana had tal­lied in the 77th minute to tie it at 1.

Robert Beric’s goal put the Fire up af­ter a score­less first half. It was his sec­ond goal this sea­son; his first came in a sea­son-open­ing loss to the de­fend­ing cham­pion Sounders.

The match Tues­day was the tour­na­ment opener for the Fire, who were shifted to a new group af­ter FC Dal­las and Nashville SC had to with­draw be­cause of pos­i­tive COVID-19 tests. The tour­na­ment is be­ing played with­out fans at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Com­plex at Walt Dis­ney World.

“I think ev­ery­one was look­ing for­ward to this game. We were all re­ally anx­ious to start play­ing games again,” Pineda said. “Ev­ery­one worked re­ally hard to­day. We all re­ally wanted a good re­sult to start the tour­na­ment off and just for the league points.”

Said first-year Fire coach Raphael Wicky: “Those are three big points against the cham­pi­ons, and it counts for the league, which is very, very im­por­tant for us. Af­ter two good games against Seat­tle and New

Eng­land, but the re­sults didn’t go in our fa­vor, I’m very happy with the three points. For the tour­na­ment, it’s al­ways good to have a pos­i­tive start, but it’s just a first step.”

The Sounders played to a 0-0 draw against the Earthquake­s to open the tour­na­ment.

Seat­tle’s Jor­dan Mor­ris started on the bench against the Fire but subbed in af­ter a score­less first half. He scored both goals when the Sounders opened the reg­u­lar sea­son with a 2-1 vic­tory over the Fire in Seat­tle. Beric scored his first MLS goal in that game.

The Fire threat­ened in the 32nd minute when Frei grabbed Prze­mys­law Frankowski’s header. Frei also deftly punched away a free kick in the 42nd minute.

But he couldn’t stop Beric, who ma­neu­vered around Sounders de­fender Yeimar Gomez to score in the 52nd minute. Beric signed in the off­sea­son af­ter play­ing in France for five sea­sons.

Mor­ris pulled off a well-placed cross to Bwana, who timed his run to beat Fire goal­keeper Ken­neth Kron­holm and tie the score. Then Pineda tal­lied about seven min­utes later.

“He sur­prised a lot of peo­ple in the pre­sea­son. He came back the same way af­ter the pan­demic,” Wicky said. “So he’s do­ing the same thing as be­fore. That gives us a big op­tion. Ob­vi­ously, now he starts scor­ing goals, which is help­ful, as well.’’

JOHN RAOUX/AP

The Fire’s Mauri­cio Pineda, who scored his first MLS goal, bat­tles the Sounders’ Jor­dan Mor­ris.

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