In what was arguably the Fire’s biggest win of the season, the Fire beat the reigning CONCACAF Champions League champions, beating the Seattle Sounders. This game was a lot like the Fire of the beginning of the season, a solid defensive performance with a few scattered scoring chances for the Fire squeezed in for good measure. The difference though is that they scored this time.
The goal came 23 minutes in. Some chaos outside the Sounders penalty box had the ball find the feet of Federico Navarro, who hit the pass of his life into the air from 40ish feet out onto the head of Rafael Czichos who redirected it past Stefan Cleveland to take the lead. The goal was the result of an extended period of quality attacks and pressure from the Fire. While Wednesday, the Fire scored by playing over the top and taking advantage of poor defensive play, today, they scored by putting pressure on the defense by having possession and using time on the ball to create uneasiness in Seattle’s defense, and putting away the chance when it came.
The defense was excelent, especially the centerback duo of Czichos and Carlos Terán. They looked in sync on every offside setup, looked unpanicked with the ball at their feet, and made every tackle and disruption they needed to make in order to help Gaga Slonina come away joint top with 9 clean sheets on the season.
The rapid improvement of Carlos Terán and Wyatt Omsberg before him as players next to Czichos is one of the stories of the season, and that bared out tonight. It’s real easy to pick times from earlier in this season where Terán made either a mental or technical error and cost the Fire. But since he started to play more due to the Omsberg situation, Terán has shown exponential improvement into the player we all hoped he could become when he was brought in to be here apparent to Johan Kappelhof for the 2020 season.
The Fire are three points out of the playoffs going into tomorrow’s game between place FC Cincinnati and 8th place Columbus Crew and are very much in the mix. Their schedule continues to be relatively easy and things finally seem to be turning the corner. They’re at a critical point in the season and they need to keep winning.
The Fire next play on Saturday, July 23rd in Vancouver against the Whitecaps