Tigres beat Fire to win SuperLiga title
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Tigres of Mexico defeated the Chicago Fire 4-3 on penalty kicks to win the SuperLiga title on Wednesday night.
The Fire allowed the winning goal in the fifth shootout round, when goalkeeper Jon Busch guessed incorrectly and Itmar Batistas shot found the lower-left corner. That came after midfielders Mike Banner and Justin Mapp failed to get their attempts on net.
The game went directly to the shootout after a 1-all regulation tie, as the tournament doesn't call for the customary two 15-minute overtime sessions.
"When you lost on penalties, it's real hard," Fire coach Denis Hamlett said. "Those are the rules. What are you gonna do? You don't like losing, especially on PKs, but what are you gonna do?"
Penalty kicks have been the theme for the all three SuperLiga finals, as Pachuca took the first one in 2007 by beating Los Angeles before New England outlasted Houston last year. The tournament was created to capitalize on the rivalry between the United State and Mexico and pays out a $1 million purse.
The Fire appeared to be in control most of the game, taking 16 shots with seven on net, while Tigres only shot on goal by Batista tied the game in the 43rd minute.
Batistas score came on a brilliant individual effort, as he juked past defenders Bakary Soumare and Brandon Prideaux before hitting a curling shot that found the lower-right corner.
"We had two guys on him and we allowed him to get the shot off," Busch said. "He hit it perfect. He bent it great. Good goal. Nothing you can do about it."
Chicago scored first in the 10th minute when defender Gonzalo Segares sent a cross into the center of the box, where forward Patrick Nyarko got away from a defender and flicked a header into the back of the net.
"I think for the most part in the first half, we had things pretty good under control," Hamlett said. "We got a great goal from Patrick on a good ball by Gonzalo. We just kept very disciplined and made it hard for them.
"It's unfortunate on (Tigres goal) because it really came out of nothing. They're a very good team on the counter."
Prior to the start of the shootout, Busch was seen on the field emphatically gesturing and arguing with officials about where the tiebreaker would take place. He continued to point towards the north end, where the Fire's hardcore fans in soldout Toyota Park -- known as Section 8 Chicago -- are located.
Instead, he was rebuffed by referee Joel Aguilar, who is from El Salvador and on a short list of officials to be evaluated to participate in next summers World Cup in South Africa.
"We wanted it on our side of the field," Busch explained. "I figure we're at home, we should have it with our fans, but the referee was obviously wearing a Tigres jersey tonight because he wanted in front of the Tigres fans. I think that's absolutely absurd."