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Club America tops Blanco, Fire 2-1 in friendly

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BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. ( -- Club America headed to the Midwest on a mission -- to give its fans a show. It did just that with a 2-1 victory. Despite temperatures in the low 50s and a swine-flu scare, a near-capacity crowd of 17,342 filled Toyota Park. Chicago's Cuauhtemoc Blanco faced his former team for the first time while donning the Fire uniform.

Club America tallied two first-half goals, sitting comfortable with a 2-0 lead. Second-half substitute Fire goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra stopped a penalty kick, keeping the net clean in the second half. Chicago had chances, but took a while to find the net. Chris Rolfe put the home team on the board in the 73rd minute, but the visitors held on for the 2-1 win.

America took advantage of a misplayed defensive block by Logan Pause, who headed the ball into the box. Juan Carlos Silva took control of the rebound and lobbed a high ball over Fire goalkeeper Nick Noble and into the net for a 1-0 lead in the second minute.

The Fire pushed hard, collecting a number of attempts. Patrick Nyarko took Chicago's first shot in the third minute. Rolfe sent the ball wide in the sixth minute. Two minutes later, Fire rookie Baggio Husidic rocketed a shot toward goal. America goalkeeper Armando Navarette knocked it out for the save.

The Fire took three more shots before America would get another chance. Rolfe and Fire defender Brandon Prideaux sent shots into Navarrete's arms. Blanco had the best chance, soaring a near perfect free kick just over the bar.

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But in the 42nd minute, Pavel Pardo would give his club a 2-0 lead. The midfielder launched a shot past the Fire's defensive line. It bounced in front of Noble off his fingertips and into the net for a 2-0 lead.

Fire fans had a chance to see some new players in the second half, with five substitutions. Andrew Dykstra replaced Noble in goal. Austin Washington, Bakary Soumare, Stefan Dimitrov and Tim Ward all entered the match. America subbed Alejandro Arguello for Pardo.

In the 60th minute, Fire defender Bakary Soumare tripped up America's Robert de Pinho in the box for a penalty kick. Salvador Cabanas sent the ball to the left. Dykstra slid to his right, blocking the ball and sending it back into play.

Marco Pappa entered the game for Chicago, replacing Blanco in the 67th minute.

In the 71st minute, Mike Banner crossed the ball into the box. Rolfe headed it just wide right. Rolfe finally broke through in the 73rd minute, as Stefan Dimitrov found him inside the box. Rolfe tapped a right-footed shot to the right of the keeper and into the net, for Chicago's first goal of the night.

America almost made it 3-1 in the 82nd minute. Dykstra misplayed a ball back to his defenders, causing the visitors to push forward. Andres Chitiva sent the ball toward goal, but Dykstra managed to block it out for the save.