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Fire blanks Union to win home opener

Chicago Fire Vs PhiladelphiUnion. 1 St- Half Action. Chicago Fire No.8 Dominic Oduro (left) with header score PhiladelphiUnigoalkeeper No.18 Zac

Chicago Fire Vs Philadelphia Union. 1 St- Half Action. Chicago Fire No.8 Dominic Oduro (left) with the header to score on Philadelphia Union goalkeeper No.18 Zac MacMath. 1-0 Fire. I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 26, 2012 8:27AM

When the Fire signed Italian goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi, coach Frank Klopas took some criticism for using one of the team’s eight international roster spots on a third goalie.

But Tornaghi vindicated Klopas’ decision in the Fire’s 1-0 victory Saturday against the Philadelphia Union in its home opener at Toyota Park in Bridgeview.

Starting in place of Sean Johnson, who is with the U.S. Olympic qualifying team, Tornaghi made saves in the 82nd and 84th minutes.

Dominic Oduro scored the lone goal of the game in the 28th minute.

‘‘I came here and can help,’’ Tornaghi said. ‘‘I was thinking that when I have the chance to play, I can help the team win games.’’

The second of Tornaghi’s two late-game saves came when the Union (0-3-0) hit a direct free kick that looked to be headed into the right side of the net.

Instead, Tornaghi dived at the last second to knock the ball away.

Klopas heralded Tornaghi’s athleticism when the Fire (1-0-1) brought him in on trial, and it likely was the reason he was able to unseat Jay Nolly on the team’s depth chart.

‘‘It was difficult because the last minutes we were
under pressure, but everyone in the defensive line wanted to win this game,’’ Tornaghi said. ‘‘The forwards scored, so they did their job, and we need to do our job in defense. And in the last minutes, we did.’’

Oduro scored when he headed a cross from Marco Pappa into the net from about 12 yards out. It was the first goal the 5-10 Oduro, who has both of the team’s goals this season, had scored via the header in a Fire uniform.

‘‘We did a little bit of crossing and finishing [in practice] the last couple of days, and it was something we hoped would happen in the game,’’ Oduro said.

‘‘Whether the ball is in the air or on the ground, I should try my best to get a touch on it.’’

The Fire had the better of the play all night. Most of the game was played in the Union’s half of the field, a
result of the Fire’s proficiency in transition.

‘‘They press right away in transition to win the ball,’’ Klopas said. ‘‘And it was
important that our ball movement was quick.’’

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