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updated: 1/30/2013 2:15 PM

Fire falls 2-1 in preseason soccer clash

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By Daily Herald News Services

The Chicago Fire fell 2-1 to the Columbus Crew at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. on Wednesday, the final day of the team's preseason camp in Florida.

Yazid Atouba, a second-round pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, scored his first goal in a Fire jersey in the 89th minute of the match. The Crew opened scoring when midfielder Eddie Gaven was taken down in the box by Fire goalkeeper Neil Kitson. Federico Higuain converted the ensuing penalty kick to give the Crew the 1-0 advantage in the 21st minute.

At the half, both squads made wholesale changes, and Fire head coach Frank Klopas started 11 different players for the final stanza.

The Crew went ahead 2-0 in the 65th minute when Ethan Finlay led the counterattack and found Sercan Guvenisik in front of the net to slot the ball under James Belshaw.

In the waning moments of the match, Atouba, a Cameroonian youth international, picked up a loose ball just outside of the 18-yard-box and unleashed a left-footed blast that was just out of reach of a diving Daniel Withrow to put the Fire on the board.

The Fire will return to Chicago following the match and are off Thursday and Friday before reconvening for phase two of preseason in Ventura, Calif., beginning Saturday through Feb. 10. While on the West Coast, the team will face Chivas USA and the San Jose Earthquakes.

Follow Orrin on Twitter @Orrin_Schwarz

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