The Chicago Fire overcame a slow and unproductive first half by salvaging a 1-1 draw during Wednesday's preseason match against the New York Red Bulls at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Fire midfielder Marco Pappa scored a 59th-minute goal to tie the match. Pappa also had a penalty kick opportunity in the 70th minute to potentially take the lead. But Pappa's shot to the right side was stopped by New York goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul.
The Fire and Red Bulls played two preseason matches Wednesday. The draw featured both sides' first-team players. Before that game, Chicago's reserves topped New York's reserves, 4-2.
Pappa, who did not get the start in the first-team match and entered at halftime, was the recipient of a Patrick Nyarko pass from the right side for Chicago's lone tally. The Red Bulls' defense could not intercept Nyarko's cross and Pappa had plenty of time to settle the ball and strike it into the back of the net.
Nyarko was the most impressive Fire player on the pitch, covering plenty of ground on the offensive and defensive ends, and showcasing some strong fitness for this stage of the preseason.
The Red Bulls earned the game's first goal in the 18th minute with Joel Lindpere's score. Lindpere had a deep strike from about 25 yards out and shot the ball toward the lower right of the goal. Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson dove to his left but could not get a glove on the ball.
New York held the brunt of possession in the first half, but the Fire had some scoring chances in the first 45 minutes. One big missed opportunity was Baggio Husidic pushing a shot at close range wide left of the goal. Husidic, who gained a reputation last year for finding himself in the right place to finish his limited scoring chances, could not put that one away.
The Fire started Johnson in goal, with defenders Jalil Anibaba, Josip Mikulic, Cory Gibbs and Gonzalo Segares, midfielders Logan Pause, Husidic, Daniel Paladini and Nyarko, and forwards Gaston Puerari and Gabriel Ferrari.
The Fire are 0-0-2 on the preseason, playing to a 2-2 draw against Florida Gulf Coast University last week. Chicago's preseason continues with a 1 p.m. CT match on Saturday against Seattle Sounders FC in Bradenton, Fla.
Barouch shines: Fire trialist Orr Barouch was the clear-cut man of the match in Wednesday's reserve game as he netted a first-half hat trick and four goals overall to lead Chicago past New York, 4-2. Barouch tallied goals in the 2nd, 30th and 42nd minutes as the Fire took a 3-1 halftime lead. Then for good measure, in the 90th minute Barouch scored off of a Jason Herrick assist before the final whistle was blown.
Barouch's first goal was a penalty kick to take an early 1-0 lead. Following a John Rooney goal in the 9th minute for the Red Bulls, the Fire responded as 18-year-old Yoximar Granados did a brunt of the work on the right side of the pitch, finding Barouch near the top of the box for the 2-1 lead. Barouch then made it 3-1 on an assist from open tryout winner Pari Pantazopoulos from the left side.
New York's Corey Hertzog cut the Fire's lead to 3-2 with a PK in the 68th minute against Fire goalkeeper Jon Conway, but the Red Bulls could not get any closer.
Ghanaian forward Kwame Obeng Darko joined the Fire as a trialist Wednesday and entered the second half of the reserve match for Herrick. Darko had a penalty kick opportunity but could not convert as it was saved by Alex Horwath. Darko then had a rebound chance, but Horwath also turned that shot away.