In the international friendly, reserves such as Corben Bone, Rafael Robayo and Orr Barouch received some much-needed playing time. They started alongside, among others, Marco Pappa and Alex, the newcomer from Brazil.
Jay Nolly also started for the Fire as the goalkeeper. It was his first game since tearing his Achilles.
For Alex, this game should prove to be beneficial as he is still getting acclimated to his Fire teammates. For the rest of the reserves, they received an in-game experience that may prove vital in case an injury strikes the team going forward.
After the game, Fire coach Frank Klopas acknowledged the obvious about his unusual first 11.
“It was an opportunity for some guys to continue to have some rhythm. Since we don’t have a league this week, obviously an opportunity for some other players to get 45 minutes, 60 minutes in and make sure that they are in a position where they’re ready to help out in case we need them.
So, I’m happy with the effort of players and we walk away luckily, with no injuries. Certain guys got 45 minutes, certain guys were able to rest and certain guys who haven’t seen a lot of action were able to get in there and get 45 or 60 minutes. I was pleased with the effort, obviously we always want to go out on the field and win. It didn’t happen but I thought the players gave everything they had.”
The Fire looked slightly tentative in the first 45 minutes against their foes from the English Premier League. While the Fire's passing was sharp, they seldom had chances to attack. Their defense also appeared sluggish as they tried to get a feel for Aston Villa's offensive attack.
Aston Villa struck in the 28th minute of play with a goal by Gabriel Agbonlahor and took their 1-0 lead into halftime. It proved to be the only goal that they needed in their 1-0 victory against the Fire.
The celebration for Aston Villa became bittersweet after Agbonlahor was carried out on a stretcher in the 61st minute of play.
The team originally feared that they would be without Agbonlahor for quite some time. After the international friendly, Aston Villa coach Paul Lambert seemed relieved when discussing his forward. Agbonlahor should only miss a “couple of weeks.”
Agbonlahor might be ready just in time for Aston Villa’s first match of the EPL season against West Ham United on August 18th.
For the Fire, their next stop is in San Jose to take on the Western Conference leaders this Saturday.
Ernest Shepard is an analyst for the Bleacher Report. All quotes and observations were obtained firsthand.