In Brian McBride and C.J. Brown's career finales, the Chicago Fire made easy work of Chivas USA in a 4-1 victory at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night. After a rather dull first half, Freddie Ljungberg navigated his way into a dangerous position on the right wing outside the goal box in the 40th minute. After getting an inch of room, Ljungberg managed to get the ball to Brian McBride who cleverly backheeled the ball leaving Chivas USA's goalie Zach Thornton with no chance to save the shot. The goal marked McBride's 80th MLS goal and put the Fire up 1-0.
For second half summary and other thoughts on the game, follow the break.
Shortly after halftime Marco Pappa found himself in a similar situation to Ljungberg but on the left side of the box in the 47th minute. This time Ljungberg was the beneficiary of a great pass and he slammed the ball home to make to 2-0 Fire. With a lead secured, Carlos de los Cobos decided to sub out Brian McBride for Calen Carr in the 50th minute. It wasn't as emotional as last weekend but standing ovations were given nevertheless. I don't know if Chicago was coasting at this point but Sal Zizzo was able to find Giancarlo Maldonado in the box for a Maldonado header to put Chivas USA back in the game 2-1 in the 57th minute.
The threat was short lived as the 68th minute saw Logan Pause have great timing with Calen Carr on a through ball. Carr sprinted down the field with Marco Pappa wide open on the wings as Zach Thornton came out to challenge. Instead of making the easy pass to Pappa, Carr deked Thornton and easily put the ball in the net himself. To thoroughly embarrass Chivas USA, Marco Pappa had a strong stoppage time shot that deflected off Thornton and substitute Baggio Husidic put away the rebound with an easy header: final score Chicago Fire 4, Chivas USA 1.
Chivas USA is not a very good team but that doesn't take away from the fact that Brian McBride and C.J. Brown had a great final night. The fact that they went out with a win is one of the few positives to come away from the 2010 season. As we look to 2011 for the Fire, Sean Johnson is the only player from the Starting XI that is guaranteed to return. Wilman Conde, Deris Umanzor and Bratislav Ristic are not under contract. Brian McBride and C.J. Brown have retired. Freddie Ljungberg has a player option for 2011. Peter Lowry, Steve Kinney, Logan Pause, and Marco Pappa could be left unprotected in the expansion draft. The only reason Sean Johnson will be back for sure is Generation Adidas players are protected in the MLS Expansion Draft slated for Wednesday, November 24.
For now, we can all sit back and enjoy this tremendous send-off of a game for two Chicago greats, McBride & Brown. Take comfort in the fact that these class acts finished their careers as they played: by being WINNERS.