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Chicago Fire Earn Hard Fought 0-0 Draw against Sporting Kansas City

March 16, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) Chicago Fire

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (March 16, 2013) - The Chicago Fire (0-2-1, 1 point) held Eastern Conference foes Sporting Kansas City (1-1-1; 4 points) to a 0-0 draw at Sporting Park Saturday afternoon. Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson made three saves and the Fire defense held strong as the Fire earned its first point of the 2013 season.

The Fire took a few moments to get settled but got its first chance of the match in the ninth minute when Jeff Larentowicz and Patrick Nyarko played a quick combination on the right before the acting Fire captain swung in a cross that found Rolfe at the back post. Rolfe popped his header up for Sherjill MacDonald but Sporting 'keeper Jimmy Nielsen did well to come off his line and claim the ball.

The Men in Red would create another chance moments later when Daniel Paladini combined with Rolfe at the top of the area. Rolfe collected the ball before hitting a low, first-time drive just wide of Nielsen's goal.

Sporting would earn its first quality chance of the match in the 13th minute as a pinging ball fell just outside of the box for Sporting right back Jerome Mechack. The Haitian defender took the ball on the hop before unleashing a low blast that forced a save from Johnson.

The Fire again came close in the 33rd minute when Daniel Paladini's free kick from the right found the head of Jalil Anibaba at the back post. The third year defender connected with the ball and headed it just over Nielsen's goal.

Sporting responded with two consecutive chances. Graham Zusi whipped in a corner kick to Aurelian Collin but the Frenchman headed his effort over the crossbar. Two minutes later Zusi again proved dangerous, picking out Claudio Bieler at the near post but the Argentine pushed his driving header wide.

The Fire nearly caught Sporting at the end of the half as Rolfe ran onto the ball before seeing his shot blocked at the top of the area. Paladini pounced on the rebound and unleashed a long-range blast that forced Nielsen to make the save as the teams entered halftime deadlocked 0-0.

Both teams came out of the locker rooms with renewed intensity. Sporting would get the first chance of the half when Zusi played Seth Sinovic through in the box. Sinovic dribbled to the line and ripped a shot to the near post but Johnson made a point blank save and safely pushed the ball out for a corner kick.

Johnson was again called on in the 54th minute when Paolo Nagamura unleashed a shot from 35 yards out, however, the Fire 'keeper came of his line to parry it away.

The Fire continued to press and in the 72nd minute strung together a series of passes that found Maicon Santos at midfield. The Brazilian striker turned towards goal and found Rolfe but his pass was just a touch heavy.

With five minutes of stoppage time, both teams continued to press and the Fire would get one last chance in the waning moments as Alex saw his long-range shot veer wide of the goal as the game ended 0-0.

The Fire return to action when they welcome Chivas USA to Toyota Park on Sunday, March 24 at 4:00 p.m. CT live on My50/UniMas and 107.9 La Ley. Tickets for the match are available by calling 888-MLS-Fire or by visiting www.Chicago-Fire.com.

Notes:

* The Fire are 23-11-10 all-time against Sporting Kansas City, and 8-8-8 in matches played on the road.

* This match marked Daniel Paladini's first start since Oct. 6, 2012 and Michael Videira's first start since Oct. 1, 2011.

* Sporting Kansas City attempted a total of 20 shots and Fire 'keeper Sean Johnson made 3 saves to record his 16th career shutout

* The Fire earned their first point and shutout of the 2013 season

* Arne Friedrich (hamstring), Logan Pause (quad) and Steven Kinney (hamstring) were kept out of the 18 due to injury.

* Jeff Larentowicz donned the armband for the third straight match in the stead of captain Logan Pause.

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