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23 April 9:52 am

I took two MLS virgins to the game on Saturday night at Toyota Park. Takeaways the night of:  Modelo and Tyskie were a plus, Section 8 is loud, my stadium blanket is missing a button or two.

But when I asked them about the game last night, the takeaways were different. “It’s like they were snakebit,” one of them said.

Snakebit is probably too kind. Cubs-related words start to come to mind when you miss the chances the Fire missed in the second half before Jeff Larentowicz finally scored in the 83rd.

Andy Greunenbaum was on fire, ok, and obviously if the finishes were a wee bit more clinical the Fire could’ve made it a laugher, but in the moment, in the stadium, freezing, it felt like the goal would never come.

Section 8 and the rest of the fans were torn between encouraging the team and letting out some boos (and grunts and groans and other moans) of frustration. In my section, a kind of supporter dichotomy emerged throughout the second half as one fan stood to admonish Chris Rolfe after a second half miss, while a soccer team sized group of young girls cheered Rolfe on, assuring him he’d get the next one.

But Gonzalo Segares had a shot from 10 feet right at the keeper in the 49th minute and Larentowicz badly sliced the follow up, Austin Berry was robbed in the 75th, Patrick Nyarko was blocked in the 51st and 54th, and Rolfe in the 56th and 75th. The crowd was exasperated and freezing and desperate to figure out what to make of the game.

Every good passage seemed to be punished or mercilessly ignored by Greunenbaum, who was scarily springy. Every time Nyarko’s hustle was rewarded with space behind the Crew or the decisive pass (which seemed like every time he was near the ball), nothing. Every time Rolfe turned his man, he booted the finish. That was what was most frustrating - it was like the game was ignoring how well the Fire were playing. It all felt sort of cruel.

And so it makes soccer-perfect sense that the goal didn’t come from a measured through ball or some quick passing, nor did it come from the high pressure that harassed Columbus all game. It came on a basically ugly long throw and an industrial finish from Larentowicz.
 

The game ran out of ways to keep the Fire from scoring, and the team reacted - erm, celebrated - with as much an exhale, like, “Finally,” as hysterical exuberance. Look at the gif above. After his goal, Larentowicz barely smiles!

But the game doesn’t care. In the end my friends had witnessed a fairly good introduction to Toyota Park. The game was exciting, the Fire won the day, and maybe most important, the cheering dilemma in my section was definitively decided in favor of the encouraging girls.

Between the Lines is a weekly column from Chicago-Fire.com contributor Ben Schuman-Stoler. Follow him on Twitter @bsto.

22 April 1:41 pm

Some of the best tweets in the lead-up to, during and after Saturday's 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew...

A Tweet View of #CHIvCLB

Some of the best tweets in the lead-up, during and after Saturday's 1-0 victory over the Crew

Storified by Chicago Fire Soccer Club· Mon, Apr 22 2013 11:22:55

Make their yellow hearts bleed RED. #cf97 v. Cbus. 7:30 @ Toyota Park. #fbEric J. Kekeis
"Senores yo soy del Fire y tengo awante!" Happy Game Day! #cf97Becky R. Guerrero
Columbus, Wells Thompson will cure you of your wickedness. #cf97Anthony Galante
It's gonna be a hot time in the ol' town tonight! FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! #cf97Joel Huber
Shout out to all the fans who come early for some tailgating before our game #cf97Daniel Paladini
All business tonight.. @Section8Chicago GET LOUD! @ChicagoFire THREE POINTS! #cf97 #letsdothisRaul Contreras
#cf97 Starting XI vs. @ColumbusCrew: Johnson; Thompson, Anibaba, Berry, Segares; Nyarko, Pause ©, Larentowicz, Lindpere; Rolfe, MacDonaldChicago Fire
Paladini not starting? #cf97Andrew Shnay
Not a surprising call from coach Klopas to go for the more attack-minded Nyarko over Paladini. #Crew96 left side is weak defensively #cf97Stephen Piggott
Teams coming out of the tunnel now. #cf97 #MLS #CHIvCLBChiFireMatch
Sean Johnson is a man. He don’t need no coat.#cf97Ruben Tisch
Every Fire fan's favorite official, Chris Penso, in the house tonight... #cf97Anthony Zilis
And we're off here at Toyota Park!ChiFireMatch
COME ON YOU MEN IN RED #cf97JPG
Columbus appeared to have struck first early, but goal is waved off. 0-0 here early at Toyota Park #cf97ChiCitySports.Com
12': Viana tackled hard by #cf97's Thompson at midfield. After conversation with ref, Thompson issued a yellow.Columbus Crew
Hard challenge from Thompson. But it's a man's game. Yellow card right call #cf97Suvat
Both #cf97 outside backs sitting on cautions after 13 minutes of play... Not a warm fuzzy feeling there. #CHIvCLB #MLSJeff Crandall
What a beautiful tackle on Dom from @pattyberron! #cf97kornkid15
All the things you do to me and all the things you say I just cant get enough I just cant get enough #cf97Myrrd God
HALFTIME! #cf97 and #Crew96 locked at 0-0 going into the locker room. #CHIvCLB #MLSChiFireMatch
A rough opening gives way to a pretty boring affair. Nothing tidy about this match. #Crew96 #cf97WrongSideOfThePond
0-0 at half time, zero shots on target. It's been poor and that's an understatement. #CHIvCLB #cf97 #mlsNeil Sherwin
And the second half is underway.ChiFireMatch
46': #cf97's MacDonald gets a quick chance but his low shot went right at Gruenebaum for the save.Columbus Crew
Arrrgghhhhhhhh #cf97Chicago Fire WUFC
The Hebrew Hammer foils Sega. #CHIvCLB #cf97On The Fire
And now Nyarko stopped. Ok, one of these has to go in. #cf97Ryan Sealock
Nyarko putting this team on his back? Another great run up the right. Rolfe's gotta put it on frame though. #cf97Jeff Crandall
Patrick Nyarko is right now what former head coach Dave Sarachan would call "a handfull." #cf97Chris 'Coz' Costello
66' - #cf97 freekick 25 yards from goal. Rolfe and Larentowicz over the ball. Rolfe plays to Larentowicz but his shot goes out for a throw.ChiFireMatch
did that just happen? #cf97Patrick
Larentowicz with what is somehow only the SECOND worst shot of the night #CHIvCLB #cf97Douglass Perry
WHY ARE WE NOT WINNING!?!?! #cf97Dustin Simons
75' - Nyarko's cross finds Berry at the top of the six but his header is saved off the line by Gruenebaum.ChiFireMatch
Austin Berry with a header on frame! A miraculous save by Gruenbaum! #CHIvCLB #cf97On The Fire
Are the gods not smiling on us tonight? Gruenebaum with a ridiculous save on Berry's header. #cf97Jeff Crandall
75' SAVE AGAIN for Gruenebaum. Another 75th-minute save for Andy.Columbus Crew
That was superb play and a fantastic save from Gruenebaum. Come on Fire! #cf97Suvat
C'MON BOYS!!!!!!!!! #cf97FIRExNECK
83' - FIRE GOALLLLLLLLLLL! Anibaba with the long throw is flicked on by Berry and headed in to goal by Jeff Larentowicz! #cf97 1 - 0 Crew.ChiFireMatch
Ggggoooooaaaallll!!!!! #cf97 #chicagofire #mls vine.co/v/bUP1vME1QprChad Berkobien
FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRE! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! #cf97Steve Sanders
Beautiful! #cf97Paul Henricksen
Ze Jerry Berry to Big Red. Header to Header. #CHIvCLB #cf97On The Fire
BIG RED! #cf97 Ok Jeff, I guess we can like you now.Nico C.
At least there's ONE Chicago team that's winning. #Fire #cf97Edison Castañeda
87' - #cf97 substitution as Daniel Paladini enters for Patrick Nyarko.ChiFireMatch
87' - Yellow card issued to Daniel Paladini.ChiFireMatch
Fastest. Yellow. Ever. #cf97Lucas Hammer
And that's full time! Your Men in Red win a hard-fought match, defeating the Crew 1-0.ChiFireMatch
That was a beautiful game! #cf97Joanna Gregson
Phew I can go to bed now 03:32 in Scotland up for work in 2 hours but worth it to c FIRE get 3 points woohoo dedication #cf97 night guysTony Wilson
That was easily one of the most satisfying #cf97 matches I've seen in a very long time. Finishing is still an issue, but damn.Paolo Cisneros
That felt good. Real good #cf97Stephen Piggott
Been very busy today at an AMA conference today but I was stoked to get this text #cf97 pic.twitter.com/pdRDS6AgjsNik Bajaj
Big Red Jeff Larentowicz does not quit: soc.cr/kgeSK #cf97MLS Insider
Columbus, ya burnt. #cf97 vine.co/v/bUP6YpJn2x6Eva Hall
Tequila now has 2 goals when sung at TP. We've got a goooooooooooood thing going. #cf97 #YellowSucksRed Dawn Hornline
Just looked at the final stat sheet. Second-half attempts on goal: 16-2 in favor of Chicago and 21-3 overall. #crew96 #cf97Adam Jardy
So the @ChicagoFire are the only pro team that won today in Chitown sportslandia? #cf97 @ESPNChiFireKirsten Tautfest
Great win for Fire nation tonight. Thanks for all the support and good to see my @UofLmenssoccer team up here #cf97Austin Berry
Body aches, head hurts, but damn it feels good to win! #cf97Ricardo
Well done guys. Very important win tonight. Thanks to our great fans for support! @ChicagoFire @Section8ChicagoArne Friedrich
Massive 3 pts tonight good shift by the boys tonight @Section8Chicago #SectorLatino and all #cf97 fans thank you for your supportDaniel Paladini
Just to clarify I didn't throw an elbow I just simply used him to catapult me up to the ball, he was a bit bigger than me Daniel Paladini
Cry not, Chicago. #cf97 took care of business, and beat the ORIGINAL Suburb of Detroit. #FireLou Uhler
No milk- just ice cream! RT @JefeCrandall: Sean Johnson might have had the easiest clean sheet of his life... No saves needed tonight. #cf97DaliaZ
Celebrating the goal with my brother @wellsthompson #cf97 instagram.com/p/YYCfMdwbCU/Jalil Anibaba
Our Fire #cf97 has warmed this cold spring night!!!"@ChicagoFire a 1-0 victory: RECAP: soc.cr/kgfR8 #CHIvCLB”Paolo Tornaghi

19 April 1:01 pm

Get to know this year's version of the Fire's long-time foe.

Check out the MLS scouting report below, for a technical break down of both sides.

17 April 11:47 am

It's Tues... no it's actually Wednesday, but we still feel the need to entertain you with our awesome GIFs.

So instead of GIFTuesday, it's GIFWednesday's featured GIF, Chris Rolfe's 49th Fire goal across all competitions. As you can see below... it was quite a shot.

16 April 5:13 pm

We got some great news today that Saturday's match vs. Columbus will be carried LIVE and for FREE on MLSsoccer.com as the el Jimador Tequila MLS Stream of the Week

A few notes in order to watch on Saturday...

* The stream is available only at MLSsoccer.com and fans must use a device with Adobe Flash player.
* The stream is available to fans inside the U.S., Canada, and Mexico
* An MLS Network account is required. Register at MLSsoccer.com or at the top left of Chicago-Fire.com

Saturday's game will be carried on television in Chicago with a carrier announcement to come on Thursday.  

16 April 10:08 am

There are many words to express what the Trib's Sports Section did today...

To the people of Boston and our friends at the New England Revolution, we're with you. 

14 April 9:07 am

As they do every week, MLSsoccer.com's Dan Haiek and Matt Doyle give their view on Sunday's clash between the Fire and Dynamo...

12 April 9:47 am

You already watched Daniel Paladini and Wells Thompson preview Sunday's match-up versus the Houston Dynamo. You've also seen Assistant Coach Mike Matkovich talk tactics in the AthletiCo Coaching Corner.

Now check out how Dominic Kinnear and his side look at the Fire.