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Blanco Shines in Fire Debut

By Todd McClamroch in News on Jul 23, 2007 11:07AM

2007_07_26_blanco.jpgThe Chicago Fire may have found a spark in Cuauhtemoc Blanco that Chicagoist hopes helps the club ignite a run to the playoffs. The Mexican star made his debut with the Fire on Sunday when the team played an international friendly with Celtic FC of the Scottish Premier League. Blanco marked his debut with a beautiful goal in the 30th minute and continued to entertain the crowd with cheeky back heel passes and deft touches that created several scoring chances until he was substituted out in the 60th minute.

During the first half and the early minutes of the second half, the Fire looked like a different team compared to their previous twelve games of which they only notched one win. There was an air of confidence among the players, especially Chad Barrett and Calen Carr who played up top in front of Blanco. Chicagoist was excited to see Blanco make a positive mark on the side, especially since he has been with the team for only a few days.

The second half saw several substitutions, giving the reserves a chance to play in this international matchup. After Blanco and a few of the veterans were substituted out of the game, Celtic came alive and took over the possession. In the 80th minute, a goal by Derek Riordan gave Celtic the equalizer.

The biggest disappointment of the night was that this match was not a sell-out. Between Blanco's debut and fan-favorite Celtic, Chicagoist was confident this game would be standing room only. However, a strong crowd of 15,719 made this the third most attended home game this year.

The Chicago Fire plays another international friendly Wednesday when they travel to La Joya, Texas to take on Mexican Primera Division squad Club Santos Laguna. They then return to Major League Soccer action against Toronto FC on the road next Sunday.

Chicagoist is looking forward to seeing how the Fire fare in the coming weeks as Blanco begins to find his place on the team and, Chris Rolfe and Justin Mapp return from injury to join him on the pitch.

Chicagoist has uploaded photos from the game to Flickr.