COMMERCE CITY, CO - APRIL 1: Jeff Larentowicz #4 of the Colorado Rapids tries to slide tackle Sebastian Grazzini #10 of the Chicago Fire as they fight for control of a ball during their game at Dick's Sporting Goods Park April 1, 2012 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)
In their second road match of the year and third match overall, the Fire fell to a Rapids side that was far from exciting, but did enough to manufacture two goals and pick up their third MLS win of the season.
The first half was not one that provided much excitement. The biggest chance of the half came from the Fire's only goal-scorer in the first two games Dominic Oduro. The oft-criticized winger Marco Pappa drifted in to the middle of the field and was able to pick out the speedy Ghanaian with space just outside the box but former Fire ‘keeper Matt Pickens was able to make a diving save to preserve the deadlock.
Unfortunately, the second half would prove much worse for the Men in Red.
In the 58th minute, Omar Cummings scored off a low cross from the middle of the box to give the Rapids a 1-0 lead. Newcomer Martin Rivero found Brian Mullan with a long ball on the right side, who was then able to cross the ball past Gonzalo Segares to the feet of Cummings, who slotted it home past rookie goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi. Tornaghi got a hand on the ball, but it wasn't enough to stop a blistering shot from the unmarked forward.
It was a goal that surely frustrated Fire supporters as Segares looked to be jogging to track back and cover Mullan. Then, on the cross, there were four Fire players within the vicinity of Cummings, but none of them marking him. The result was a defensive breakdown that highlighted the Fire's flaws on the day.
The Fire picked up the pace slightly after the goal, but never really threatened. Both Oduro and substitute Daniel Paladini put shots on target, but Pickens was able to deal with both with ease.
And in the 92nd minute, Colorado put the game away. Substitute Kamani Hill was able to create some separation from the Fire defenders near the top of the box and put a shot on target. Tornaghi made the save, but was unable to parry the ball away, and Hill was able to pounce on the rebound and double the Rapids' advantage and ensure three points for the home side.
The Fire came into this match off their first win of the season in their home opener last week against the Philadelphia Union. The club made two changes from last week, giving midfielder Rafael Robayo his first start with the club and moving Logan Pause to RB to cover for Dan Gargan, who was out with a toe injury.
But Robayo failed to impress in his first start. He lasted only 61 minutes before being replaced by Paladini.
The Fire also brought on Federico Puppo for Marco Pappa (Puppo for Pappa!) in the 78th minute. Orr Barouch made his first appearance of the season in the 83rd minute, replacing Pause as the Fire pushed forward offensively to find the equalizer. Unfortunately for the Fire, this was ultimately a night to forget.
Oddly enough, the Fire started out last season with a road draw (FC Dallas), followed by a home win (Sporting KC) before losing on the road (Seattle Sounders). Let's hope that trend doesn't continue and La Maquina Roja are able to pick up their next MLS win before June.
The club returns home to Toyota Park for their next match in two weeks time against last year's MLS Cup runner-up Houston Dynamo.