Crowd happy with Cruz Azul victory over Fire
You could forgive the Chicago Fire for feeling like visitors in their own stadium Tuesday night.
It seemed somewhat fitting, though, considering the team's announced intention to leave SeatGeek Stadium, its home of 14 seasons.
Playing in the inaugural Leagues Cup, the Fire fell to top-flight Mexican club Cruz Azul 2-0 in front of 14,213 fans, most of whom made Cruz Azul players feel right at home.
The Fire is negotiating a return to Soldier Field, the team's original home.
Most of the fans wore the blue jersey of Cruz Azul and cheered joyously for both of their goals.
Coming off a game Saturday at Philadelphia, and with D.C. United coming to southwest suburban Bridgeview this Saturday night for a MLS regular-season game, the Fire rotated its squad to rest most of its regulars, including Nico Gaitan, Dax McCarty and Johan Kappelhof.
"We have guys with issues, we have guys with fatigue, and we have injured guys," said Fire coach Veljko Paunovic, who acknowledged it was a pro-Cruz Azul crowd. "And we are trying to always put always the best available players on the field, and this is the best lineup we could assemble for today. No disrespect to the competition or to the opponent."
Bastian Schweinsteiger entered the game in the second half for the Fire. Seldom-used homegrown players Grant Lillard, Jeremiah Gutjahr and Andre Reynolds started vs. Cruz Azul and helped the Fire hang tough.
Paunovic called their play "fantastic."
"I think they did really well against those kind of players, experienced players as well," Schweinsteiger said of the Fire youngsters.
Despite playing only four players who started against Philadelphia, the Fire hung tough with Cruz Azul most of the first half. Roberto Alvarado opened the scoring with a somewhat awkward-looking volley from 17 yards in the 43rd minute.
Elias Hernandez scored Cruz Azul's second goal in the 90th minute.