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As frustrating as it may be to do so, take a minute and think back to the 58th minute of Sunday night’s defeat to the Colorado Rapids. Newly acquired Rapids midfielder Martin Rivero hits a long ball towards the Fire’s left-hand corner for Brian Mullan to chase. Clearly tired and lacking the pace needed to catch Mullan, Gonzalo Segares lags several yards behind and cannot prevent the Colorado veteran from reaching the ball, looking up and examining his options, and finding Omar Cummings unmarked in the center of the box with acres of space. 1-0 to the home side.
My problem with this goal doesn’t even lie with Segares, apart from his lack of effort to stop the cross, but the main culprits for this goal are the Fire’s center-backs: Cory Gibbs and Jalil Anibaba. The pair have built a formidable defensive partnership together, but they simply weren’t at their best on Sunday. The image below portrays just how much space they left for Cummings, a type of sin when committed in one’s own penalty box.
Omar Cummings finds himself in acres of space for Colorado's opening goal against the Fire on Sunday.
But is defense really the main problem for the Chicago Fire and the main area for Frank Klopas to address before Houston’s visit to Toyota Park on April 15th? I’m not convinced. Continue reading
“Our confidence is really high. I’m very proud of the team; I thought we stuck to our guns throughout the game and fought really hard. The most important thing is that at the end of the day we got three points. I thought we played really well and I’m looking forward to the next game.
“We’ve been working on crossing and finishing during training, hoping it was something we would see in the game, (Marco) Pappa delivered a great ball and I was in the right spot to put it in. I’m pretty much right where I left off last season. I want to keep it going with my teammates behind me, stay positive and work hard.”
“As a forward, it’s my job to score wherever the ball is, in the air or on the ground, I need to get to it. Pappa made a great delivery and I was right there to put it in. As to whether I’m working on headers or not, once the ball gets there I’ll use any part of my body, besides my hands, to score.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of the backline, especially the goalie. Paolo (Tornaghi) has had a rough road coming from overseas, regardless of the position he was in he stepped right in and played a spectacular game. The backline kept it strong and we got the shutout. “
“We have a lot more organization this season. Like any team that takes time, we’re a year plus into this with all of us together and the understanding has been great. We work on it every day and it’s improving every day. “
“That was his first game last week in Montreal, and the more we train together the better it’s getting. He had to make some big save today, but outside of that we’re trying to make his job as easy as possible and fit him into the team. He’s a great shot stopper and his composure is spectacular for his age, which comes from him playing for a big club in Europe. We could ask for more from him – his composure everyday in training is so laid back, he’s not nervous and that’s huge for us.”
Read immediate match analysis from the Fire’s opening night victory against the Philadelphia Union here. Be sure to follow @ChicagoFireBlog on Twitter for more updates.
Both of Chicago's goalscorers from Saturday night's win
7:30 p.m., Toyota Park. Attendance: 15,211. Referee: Juan Guzman
A few hours before the Chicago Fire kicked off against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night at Toyota Park, Dominic Oduro (@FreakyFast8) tweeted “Was just watching bolt run and I wish I was as fast as him.” Well, let’s just say there was one or two people in the Rapids team who were wishing the same thing about Oduro. The Ghanaian scored his ninth goal of the season with a terrific breakaway goal in the first half that we’ve come to expect from him. The finish on this occasion wasn’t too bad either, especially for a player who has taken so much heat for his finishing this season. Cory Gibbs nodded home a second goal before halftime to send the Fire on their way to a second consecutive win for the first time this entire season, setting the team up nicely for a US Open Cup semi-final match on Tuesday.
Here are my three main points from the Fire’s 2-0 win over Colorado: Continue reading
Following a momentous win in Columbus last weekend, the Chicago Fire continue their stretch away from Toyota Park with a trip to rivals New England Revolution on Saturday (kick-off at 6:30 p.m.) in hopes of maintaining that winning feeling. Christian Nazarit ended the Fire’s 11 match winless streak with a goal from close range in the 90th minute of the Fire’s 1-0 win over the Crew to give the men in red their first league win since March 26th. New England could now find themselves in a similar situation, having lost their last four matches and slipping to 7th place in the Eastern Conference, level on points with Chicago.
New England: W-L-L-L-L
Five things to watch for:
- Gold Cup regrets? – Having rejected Grenada’s invitation to represent his country in the Gold Cup, Sharie Joseph opted to stay back with the Revolution and help the club move up the standings. The result has not been what he and the Revs would have hoped for, however. Four defeats on the trot has seen New England slide down the standings, with Joseph particularly struggling the past couple of matches. That said, Joseph remains the leading scorer for the Revs with four goals and has proven himself capable of being a match winner in the past, meaning the Fire should still be cautious of what he brings to the table.
- Tightening the ship – After shipping goals from almost everywhere on the pitch in the early stages of the season, the Fire have finally come to grips at the back. Yamith Cuesta and Cory Gibbs have established a burgeoning partnership at the heart of defense, while Gonzalo Segares has continued his fine form at left back. Both Bratislav Ristic and Jalil Anibaba have deputized at right back and have helped contribute to three consecutive clean sheets for the Fire. Sean Johnson also looks to his best, causing us to wonder why he was ever kept out of the side for so long by Carlos de los Cobos. A clean sheet on Saturday will equal the club’s record of four straight clean sheets. Can the Fire maintain their defensive form and keep New England out?
- Runaway top scorer – The Fire couldn’t really ask for a better opportunity to equal its record of consecutive clean sheets. The Revolution have scored just three goals in the last seven matches and looked out of sorts in front of goal during their 0-0 draw with Toronto FC on Wednesday night. In fact, only Joseph has managed to score more than one goal for the Revs this season. Seven players are tied in second with one goal apiece and the club’s total haul of 11 goals scored this season is a league low.
- Attacking options – With Gaston Puerari being transferred to Club Atlas on Wednesday and Marco Pappa still on Gold Cup duty with Guatemala, the Fire’s attacking options will be slightly limited. Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro will most likely start on the wings while Nazarit could partner Diego Chaves up front. If this is the case, we could see Orr Barrouch make yet another substitute appearance if the Fire need more attacking talent on the field as the match progresses. Barrouch has made 12 appearances this season, all of which have been off the bench.
- And then there was one little Uruguayan– Puerari’s departure means a greater burden will be placed on Chaves to deliver the goods (despite Puerari not contributing much in terms of goals). Nazarit will need to contribute as well, but he’s still young and finding his feet in the MLS. Chaves started the season in terrific form but hasn’t scored since his opener in the 1-1 home draw with Houston on April 23rd. The Fire will certainly be hoping for a few more goals out of him. Saturday wouldn’t be too bad of a time to score one.
All of the talk prior to Thursday’s match centered around Sporting Kansas City’s new stadium, but after 90 frustrating minutes the only thing on the Fire’s minds was yet another match without a win. It’s been 75 days and 11 matches since the Fire finished a match on top. Despite coming close to breaking that streak on several occasions the Fire never really looked like earning all three points at LIVESTRONG Park.
Offensive inefficiencies – It’s not the first time this season the Fire have failed to find their offensive rhythm and at it won’t be the last. Christian Nazarit tested KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen with a fine header in the first half, but otherwise saw very little of the ball and looked more and more tired as the match progressed. Gaston Puerari worked his socks off once again but was ultimately inefficient on the attacking side of things while Diego Chaves, who had been dropped to bench for a well earned rest, entered the fray in the second half but never looked like getting anything going. Dominic Oduro was the most threatening for the Fire, using his speed to create several opportunities while forcing Nielsen into several saves before the Danish ‘keeper received his marching orders for handling outside the penalty box.
Sega – One major bright side from the Fire’s past two draws is the form of Gonzalo Segares. Apart from an early misjudged header in his own box early in the first half, the Fire’s first choice left-back was in fine form and proved difficult for KC to get past. Yamith Cuesta and Cory Gibbs also looked solid on Thursday. Note: Segares wore a black armband to honor the death of his girlfriend’s mother.
PaldadiniXI – After all the calls for Daniel Paladini to start for the Fire, the former NASL midfielder has started and impressed in back-to-back matches. He looks intent to shoot from outside whenever he can and who can blame him. His powerful drive in the first half looked goal bound only for a vital deflection to interfere while his long range effort in the second half was spilled by Eric Kronberg, allowing substitute Orr Barouch to come inches away from giving the Fire the lead.
Penalty drama – Following Barouch’s effort that cannoned off the cross bar, Omar Bravo found himself with possession in the Fire penalty box only for Bratislav Ristic to interfere with a stalwart challenge that grounded the former Mexican forward. The disapproval of LIVESTRONG Park was clearly evident as referee Michael Kennedy opted against giving KC what initially appeared like a clear penalty. Upon review, however, it appears Kennedy was spot on (no pun intended) in his decision not to award the home side a penalty kick. His decision is still up for debate, but Ristic looks to have just gotten enough of the ball to fairly thwart Bravo.
What rivalry? – A lot of the talk heard from Kansas City this season has not been about their new stadium, but instead about this new rivalry with the Chicago Fire. As for the Fire, the club has never considered KC to be a rival and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Rivalries aren’t made overnight, they are built over time and Thursday’s match did little in devel