The Chicago Fire were able to start the home campaign with a 3-2 victory over 10-man Sporting KC on Saturday with goals from Diego Chaves (penalty), Gaston Puerari, and Marco Pappa.
Sporting defender Matt Besler opened the account for KC and substitute Teal Bunbury capitalized on a late mistake from Fire defender Gonzalo Segares, but the side held on for 3 points in the home opener.
The Fire now sit tied for 2nd in the East with 4 points along with New England and New York. The Philadelphia Union lead the East with 6 points.
Fire Captain Logan Pause after the match:
"Getting three points at home in the first game of the year is important, we're excited about that."
"We're happy about the result but we made it pretty interesting. We're disappointed with the goals that we let up."
"Now we've got a big game on Wednesday that we're already starting to look forward to. We'll prepare for that and look at the couple of mishaps and instances with a lack of concentration and do our best to correct it."
The Fire will host 2010 MLS Champion Colorado Rapids at Bradley University's Shea Stadium in Peoria on Wednesday 3/30 at 6:30pm CT for the US Open Cup qualifying match. Tickets can be purchased at all TicketMaster outlets and online.
Player Ratings after the break...
Sean Johnson (5) - Saves an own goal by quickly reacting to Anibaba's header and tipping it over the crossbar. Seemed caught off guard on a KC corner in the 50th. Paries the ball for a second corner which leads to slow bouncing cross that he fails to gather...ends in KC's first goal.
Jalil Anibaba (5.5) - Defended Omar Bravo well while he was on the pitch. Looked a little lost on a play in the 23rd when Chaves fails to defend his man and Anibaba is left to take the attacker on in the box. His header on a KC set piece just before the half tests Sean Johnson and could have easily been an own goal.
Cory Gibbs (6) - Solid outing for Gibbs. Could have opened the scoring in the second minute but fires the ball well high. Strong in defense, no glaring mistakes.
Josip Mikulic (7) - Consistently concentrated in central defense. Positioning himself well and timing his challenges appropriately. Quite possibly the most valuable of the offseason signings so far.
Gonzalo Segares (5) - His lazy pass back leads to the second KC goal by Bunbury. Trouble dealing with Sapong and lets Diop in on goal in the 85th nearly leading to the equalizer. Not as involved offensively against KC.
Logan Pause (6) - Lost the ball in the 49th just in front of the box almost leading to a KC goal by Bunbury. Several good runs, moving the ball well. Representing the captain's armband well. Some difficulty getting the possession game going.
Mike Videira (7) - Known for his defensive role in midfield, Videira showed some creative offensive spark with his passing. Great pass from deep midfield in 13th minute that almost leads to a goal by Pappa. Perfectly timed and weighted through ball to Puerari in the 39th leading to the second goal, had to beat a defender to get the ball away too. Another great ball through the KC defense to Chaves who almost makes it 3-0 Fire but stopped by Nielsen who gets a toe on it. Another great pass from the midfield in the 58th finds Pappa who brilliantly works through the defense for the 3rd goal. Great showing.
Patrick Nyarko (6) - Capitalized by intercepting a lazy pass by Sporting KC in the 19th, was immediately fouled leading to a set piece in a good position. Otherwise fairly quiet, still showing hesitancy to pull the trigger. Some good runs but prefers to look for a last minute pass rather than look up at goal.
Marco Pappa (7) - Good look at goal from distance in the 13th minute on a nice pass from Videira in the deep midfield. Good free kick taken in the 20th gets around the wall and finds the lower right corner but KC keeper Nielsen got there. Great pass from the deep left up to Puerari on the break, which leads to the red in the 30th. Set up the play that led to the second goal by Puerari and easily could have been the one to finish it too. Shot from distance late that looked menacing. Filling the creative playmaker role more and more as time goes on.
Gaston Puerari (7) - Continues to be an annoying presence for defenders at the top. Contrasting very well in style with Chaves. His finishing seems to be improving as he gains more confidence. Was the cause for a red card for the second match in a row.
Diego Chaves (7) - Very confidently takes the penalty and places it perfectly in the upper right with lots of pace giving the Fire a 1-0 lead with a man advantage. Great positioning and runs leading to some good chances. Forced a tough save by Nielsen in the 47th after a good ball through from Videira. His ball sets up Barouch for his great chance on goal in the 81st.
Orr Barouch (6) - Came on for Puerari in the 74th minute and quickly got involved in the game. Good run and chance at goal in the 81st.
Dominic Oduro (N/A) - Entered the match in the 90th minute for Chaves. Couldn't seem to find the pace of the match.
Dasan Robinson (N/A) - Came on late for Nyarko. Good to see him healthy again.
Carlos De Los Cobos (6) - Fielded the squad in the 4-4-2 transitioning to 3-5-2 after the man advantage. Seems to have everyone on the same page tactically and has built good chemistry with so many new faces. Will need to address some lapses in concentration and find a way for the defense to stay tight after a getting an early lead and a man advantage. Continues to adjust the tactics as necessary on the fly. Starting the right players and making sound substitutions.
Full 11 (6) - We got the 3 points needed, but were given the early lead on a controversial penalty and played the rest of the match a man up. Penalty aside, an 11 v. 10 match ended in a 2-2 draw at home against an injury-laden Sporting KC: a pitiful result. All 5 of the goals in the match were set up by the Chicago Fire. The good news is we are finding the net and answering the questions about where goals will come from. The bad news is we are sacrificing possession, defensive concentration, and consistency in the process and carelessly providing opportunities on our own end. If one of the key back 3 defenders needs a break or goes down to injury at any time this season, expect this club to struggle to outscore opponents no matter what the attack looks like.
Home Supporters (6) - 12,157 in attendance at Toyota Park (capacity 20,000). The cold weather certainly played a factor on the attendance for the home opener. Section 8 looked great filling the four sections anticipated by season ticket sales (>800). Lots of flags and energy from the Section. The TIFO displays looked great and the noise was strong. The rest of the stadium was patchy. Hopefully as the club gathers points and the weather warms up attendance will improve.