Chicago Fire 2, Everton 0

By Ian Doyle on Jul 31, 08 09:41 AM in Journalists

JAMES VAUGHAN was sent off as Everton slipped to defeat against Chicago Fire in the first game of their US tour.

Vaughan, who was making his first appearance of pre-season as a second-half substitute, was given a straight red card by referee Landis Wiley in the last minute for a late tackle on Fire's Daniel Woolard.

Goals in either half from Chris Rolfe and Tomasz Frankowski gave the Major League Soccer side a deserved 2-0 win at Toyota Park.

The return to action of Tim Howard, Leon Osman, Vaughan and Joseph Yobo couldn't prevent David Moyes's side from slipping to their third defeat in five pre-season games.

Howard, Steven Pienaar, Leighton Baines and Yakubu were all handed their first starts of this pre-season, the latter partnered in attack by Jose Baxter.

The 16-year-old has been one of several youngsters to have made the most of their opportunity in recent weeks, and two others, Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell, retained their places in the starting line-up.

Fire are third in the Eastern Conference and were celebrating the signing of former Everton striker and United States football icon Brian McBride.

And the MLS side, no doubt keen to pitch themselves against Premier League opposition, were the livelier during an increasingly feisty first half and merited their interval lead.

Their intention was clear from the opening minute, when a dangerous cross from left-back Gonzalo Segares was headed on to his own post by Phil Jagielka.

Centre-back Bakary Soumare couldn't direct his header in from a corner after Howard's fumble while Justin Mapp's shot from the left was hounded by the Everton defence.

It was no surprise, then, when the Fire went ahead on the 42nd minute with a well-worked strike, Segares and Mapp exchanging possession down the left flank and the former crossing low to the near post where Patrick Nyarko, cousin of former Everton misfit Alex, intelligently dummied for the incoming Rolfe to strike home.

The goal came only moments after Yakubu had claims for a penalty after a tangle with Wilman Conde, Everton's only attacking moment of note save a speculative 25-yard effort from Pienaar that drifted way off target.

The small size of the travelling squad was highlighted at half-time when Moyes made one substitution while Fire replaced their entire starting XI.

Leon Osman made his belated pre-season bow as a replacement for Baxter, the youngster having been booked moments before the break for a rash tackle after failing to win a free-kick of his own seconds earlier.

Vaughan made his long-awaited return to action soon at the expense of Mikel Arteta, and the striker wasted no time in announcing his comeback with a run into the area past two defenders, the ball eventually falling for Yakubu to fire a snapshot that was turned behind by Fire goalkeeper Nick Noble.

Everton were much improved but fell further behind on 70 minutes, a break from Andy Herron ending with Peter Lowry firing a cross-shot that Howard couldn't hold, allowing Frankowski to tap in the rebound.

Yobo emerged for the last six minutes in which Diego Gutierrez was within a whisker of making it 3-0 with a curling free-kick and, at the other end, Lescott solicited a decent stop from Noble.

And the game ended on a sour note when Vaughan caught Woolard with a late challenge and was instantly dismissed, the Fire man requiring lengthy treatment before being helped off.

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