BY ANTHONY ZILIS
The Chicago Fire weren't favored against Manchester United, especially after the English Premier League side drubbed the Seattle Sounders 7-0 just three days ago.
Still, some of the Fire players felt like they let one slip away after they lost 3-1 to Manchester United at Soldier field.
“I thought we played well … It’s just a matter of trying to finish the game off,” Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko said. “We had a couple of chances to have a little security, but it didn’t happen.”
The Fire were off to a dream start when defender Cory Gibbs scored in the 13th minute to suprised the sellout crowd of 61,308. Chicago outshot Manchester United 10-5 in the first half, but they couldn’t manage to beat goalkeeper David de Gea again in his Manchester United debut.
Baggio Husidic had a one-on-one chance just outside the six-yard box in the 52nd minute but he failed to convert. Minutes later, Orr Barrouch hit the post.
Yet again, it just wasn’t the Fire’s day.
“It’s tough, because you can’t let chances go against a team like this,” defender Gonzalo Segares said. “We could’ve been up 3-0 in the second half but we couldn’t finish.”
Wayne Rooney equaled the score and opened the floodgates for United in the 66th minute when he chipped goalkeeper Jon Conway.
Rafael scored from an awkward angle in the 75th minute, kicking the ball through Conway’s legs, and Nani added one of his own in the 82nd, chipping the backup goalkeeper.
Just like that, Manchester United was securely on its way to a third win in the World Football Challenge.
“Chicago Fire played well. They could have scored two or three more,” Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson said. “We showed patience.”
Winless in their last seven league games, a win could've done wonders for the Fire's confidence.
Still, interim head coach Frank Klopas brushed off any inkling of disappointment.
“Look guys, you’ve got to understand who we’re playing against. We made the group competitive. In the final third we still need to be working on stuff,” Fire head coach Frank Klopas said.
“I thought it was a positive impression. We wanted to really step on the field and play with confidence. I thought we did that for the most part 60-65 minutes of the game. We created chances and that was positive."
After a record amount of rainfall flooded Chicago the night before, temperatures reached the 90’s during the game. “I felt like we were playing on the desert today, it was really really hard,” Manchester United midfielder Nani said. “I think everyone maybe lost some weight.” … Recent signing Sebastian Grazzini made his debut for the Chicago, coming on in the 62nd minute … The sellout crowd was a the highest for a soccer game at Soldier Field since its capacity was lowered when the stadium was renovated in 2003.