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06 July 9:58 am

The Fire will host Sporting KC on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park attempting to extend their unbeaten run to double digits after a dramatic five-goal thriller against San Jose midweek while KC comes to Chicago after a disappointing home draw against Vancouver.

Both teams are not on friendly terms and this looks set to be a thriller. Here are some tactical things to look out for.

Limiting the set pieces – Don’t allow Zusi to work his magic

Sporting KC have a double threat on set pieces with a number of players who are very good in the air and they have Graham Zusi, one of the best strikers of a dead ball in MLS.

At the back, Frenchman Aurelien Collin is not only strong but always makes a nuisance of himself in the box. Up front, they’ve benefited from the return of striker Kei Kamara who spent some time with Norwich in the Premier League.

Dan and Kevin talk Sporting KC

TICKETS: Fire vs. Sporting KC

In KC’s last match against Vancouver, Kamara came very close to scoring from headers on multiple occasions not by outmuscling his opponent like Collin does but simply by out jumping them.

Like quite a few teams in MLS, Kansas City also possesses a modified set play – the long throw. Just as Jalil Anibaba deploys the it almost whenever possible for the Fire, SKC center back Matt Besler does the same.

The Fire gave away a silly goal from a set piece last week and better defending will be needed against a team that is well known for their set piece prowess.

Keeping SKC’s attacking wide players at bay – neutralizing Saad and Kamara

Kansas City starts in a 4-3-3 formation with striker Claudio Bieler in the middle with Kei Kamara and Soony Saad supporting him wide. Many teams are so focused (and I don’t blame them) on Bieler and attacking mid Graham Zusi that sometimes Saad and Kamara are overlooked and both players are good at finding space.

Coach Peter Vermes constantly orders the players to switch sides during play which makes picking them up even harder. In Kansas City’s last win against Columbus, Kamara chipped in with two goals, the first coming from a fantastic switch of the field which found Kamara in space that he was able to control and finish.

The attacking nature of Sporting’s outside defenders also gives Kamara and Saad an excuse to get into the middle and support Bieler. There will be some 1v1 battles between Saad and the Fire outside defenders but it will certainly take a team effort to keep the wide men at bay on Sunday afternoon.

Letting the Fire wingers create – creating room for Nyarko and Duka change the game

Anyone who has watched the Fire closely this season will tell you that winger Patrick Nyarko is playing the best the best soccer of his career and if he can overcome the tight hamstring that brought him out early against San Jose and start against KC the Fire have a great chance of winning. 

Athletico Coaching Corner with Mike Matkovich

Nyarko has done it all for the team this year, be it tracking back to win the ball from his opponent, beating a man in a 1v1 situation or combining well with his teammates.

In the midweek win against San Jose, Nyarko did something many critics of the Fire often call out for more of,  getting into the box to support the strikers. Nyarko not only got in but made a great near post run and finished superbly.

The cross provided for the Nyarko goal came from Dilly Duka who is starting to show his true potential. Duka had a goal and an assist in the win against San Jose and could’ve had a few more if not for narrowly missing a few rockets from outside the box.

READ: Will Nyarko be good to go Sunday?

In the past few weeks, Dilly has been a major threat from the wide positions, beating players at will and putting in numerous dangerous crosses. Duka has also got into the box to great effect, scoring two goals in as many matches.

The dual threat of attacking from wide areas as well as providing support in the box should cause the SKC back line some major issues on Sunday afternoon.

Prediction: Fire critics have claimed the club has yet to beat an elite team during the side’s nine-game unbeaten streak but I think those critics will be silenced on Sunday afternoon. 2-1 Fire with goals from Magee and Alex.

05 July 11:33 am

Soccer in America is still constructing its infrastructure, and we need engineers. People to build the institutions that will support the weight. One of those engineers is here, with us. If you’ve watched a game in a bar in Chicago you probably already know him.

Tall, beer in hand, iconic rockabilly hat - that’s the ubiquitous German Cowboy. His name is Mike Knueppel, and he’s been in Chicago since 2005. You’ll find him often at the far side of the bar in Cleo’s on Chicago, sometimes in the back room, rarely on the patio, but you can always pick him out by his trademark collection of kits, dozens and dozens of them, all with COWBOY 57 on the back.

We were driving to Toyota Park on Wednesday night talking about all those jerseys. I once saw him change from a German kit to an American one at halftime of their friendly in June. How can one support ALL the teams? What happened to loyalty?

“I wear the shirt of who’s playing,” he said. “But mostly if they have a German player.”

This was hard to take. Aren’t we supposed to live and die for a club? That means hating other clubs, wishing harm on strangers in other colors, “You ain’t got no history,” all of that.

But he was saying something different. You watch because, first of all, you want to watch the game. The game is primary. Then, you have your local allegiance. His is German and Hamburger SV (He founded Hamburger SV Supporters Chicago with a few others.) He cares most of all about the German national team and he’s willing to wear shirts of teams he “can live nicely without,” as he says, like Bayern Munich, because of some of their players.

“I even bought a Bayern Munich shirt recently,” he told me. “I mean I really shocked their supporters, they know I don’t like that team, but as a fellow German I support them internationally.”

I said, “This is troubling. You support players as they come and go? They’re moving around constantly. It’s like rooting for mercenaries.”

“I don’t support only the players. That’s why I have COWBOY (or VAQUERO for Real Madrid) on my shirts with my birth year. At least I know that won’t change. But first you support your local club.”

That’s fine too, but the logic breaks down again because what about the organizations with detestable front offices or ownership groups? (I’m thinking about even some of our Chicago teams’ history.) You can’t just support a team willy-nilly.

“It’s true,” he said. “But you have to support your location.”

And Americans supporting European teams in places they may have never even seen in person?

These to me are the tough questions of support and fandom. What exactly are we doing supporting these teams, all over the world? Thankfully, seated in Toyota Park to watch our shared, indisputable, actual home team, we could lay the question aside for 90 minutes or so.

Fun game, too, right? Nice how the rain broke and the night warmed up. Dilly Duka more than deserved the standing ovation he got as he came off in the 87th. The Cowboy and I enjoyed watching him absolutely terrorize Quakes right back Steven Beitashour.

The night was beautiful. Leaving the stadium, I was mumbling about how we fans deserve these nights. Those cold, grinding results early in the season were tough. You could feel the fans’ relief at the result. No disappointment this time. Wednesday night was even better because of the challenge and drama; San Jose wouldn’t die, but the Fire earned the three points with three beautifully worked goals. “They won, that’s all that matters,” the Cowboy said. “Fans love the win.”

There’s a long story for how the Cowboy got to Chicago, a story including four weeks at the Presidential towers in 1987, karaoke, his wife Sharon, the city of Seattle, software programming - it’s a story that he might tell you if you see him at Cleo’s. He’s not afraid to share.

And in some ways, it’s fitting that he’s around. The Cowboy embodies the 21st century globalized soccer paradigm. He can watch his Bundesliga, follow die Mannschaft, and participate in the growth of soccer in America, all from a comfortable neighborhood bar in Chicago. His work developing Cleo’s website and social presence has made it one of the primary soccer locations in Chicago and turned heads nationally. Maybe most importantly, his unofficial freelance soccer ambassadorship has brought people from all over the world together.

You’ll see him meeting with local supporter clubs (some of which he founded himself) like those of Dortmund and Hamburg, as well as Section 8, the Fire, ESPN, and just last week, in the beer garden, you would’ve seen him watching Uruguay and Italy in the Confederations Cup with Hamburg’s senator of the interior and highest ranking police officer.

Ever since he convinced Cleo’s to let him fix up their site and control their Facebook page, and with the blessing and help of Stephen behind the bar, the Cowboy has been our handyman, fixing up games and posting schedules so we can watch American and European soccer at our ease. “I wanted a bar where I know them and they know me and I get there they put the drink on the bar,” he said. “Where I can watch all the games and they’ll open early.”

In other words, it’s not really about the fanaticism of watching games. Going back to our conversation about supporting clubs, it became clear to me that the whole “it’s what’s on the front of the jersey, not the back of the jersey” thing is cheesy and doesn’t apply - just having a jersey is what matters. In this way, the Cowboy is critical in experience-making. He’s not an owner of the bar, or even an employee - he’s one of us. His work setting up games and events at Cleo’s, with just watching the game as the goal, means that there’s less pressure to know esoteric European stadium statistics, or to spew hatred for teams thousands of miles away.

Maybe that’s the answer about why we support who and how. Maybe we just support the game. Watch the game for the game’s sake. Love the game. Talk to people. Drink beer. Amen.

Ben Schuman-Stoler is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com. Follow him on Twitter @bsto.

03 July 11:48 pm
Quote Sheet
Chicago Fire vs. San Jose Earthquakes
Toyota Park – July 3, 2013
 
Frank Klopas, Chicago Fire Head Coach
 
On how the team performed today
 
“I thought we played an excellent game. Regardless of the early goal, sometimes you get a little bit unlucky but that’s part of the game. I thought we played good soccer. Tactically the guys followed the plan that we discussed and we talked about. We created chances, we were dangerous…It was an exciting game and again we found a way to create chances and score some goals. It was an exciting game from both sides. They left everything on the field. It was an important game for us, being at home again. It’s been a tough stretch that we have to take one game at a time but starting with this one it is important to continue to play well and obviously getting the three points was big.”
 
On the team’s tactical initiative
 
“Zonally, the way San Jose defends, the one thing we talked about was looking to attack more out wide. Just looking to switch play all the time with movement from behind and if we could get moments on the switch where we could isolate Dilly [Duka] and Patrick [Nyarko] and have movement from behind to create numerical superiority, that’s what we were looking to do. I thought we moved the ball well, we switched, we were dangerous, and the guys put everything on the field and worked hard. All the ideas we talked about were enforced and I give credit to the guys. They left it all on the field and played good soccer. It was exciting for the fans and the three points is huge.”
 
On what the Fire does to prevent teams like San Jose from coming back
 
“San Jose did last year. They came back. They were up 1-0 and they came back. This is this year. The strikers that they have are a handful, they are very good in the air and you have to be very organized in the back. A lot of times, late in the game, they are a team that doesn’t give up. They are very good in the air, they are very good at winning second balls, and they just seem to have that belief. They don’t give up. We respect it and we talked about it, but it is never easy dealing with it in a game. Last year we gave up a late goal when they came back and scored in the 97th minute or something, but this time the team defended well all the way until the end.”
 
On the way San Jose’s late personnel changes effected his planning
 
“It was just two guys, pretty much [that we found out about late]. We knew the guys that were missing with their national teams so we knew that. Obviously with [Shea] Salinas being suspended, we found out today, so it was just basically two positions. [The plans] really didn’t change. Whether you start Lenhart or Jahn or Gordon I think they are pretty similar with their ability to be very good in the air and the direct play that they like to play. Some of the personnel was different but their approach to the game wasn’t going to change. So it was just one or two positions we weren’t really sure of until we got the game sheet.”
 
On Dilly Duka’s impressive performances in the last few games
 
“Players need time. It doesn’t happen overnight. Dilly has a lot of qualities and ability. You have seen some of the qualities that he has but right now he is doing so well. Not only his ability to make good decisions, hold the ball, and be dangerous. He is a great one-on-one player where he can beat defenders but now his ability, like the goal he scored, on the weak side making those runs, getting in position and following the play…but he’s only going to get better. I think it’s a matter of time to get his confidence, to get acquainted with the players, and all that cohesion that you develop. It doesn’t happen overnight. You have seen the qualities that he has and now we need to keep pushing his consistency. I expect a lot bigger things from him.”
 
On Patrick leaving the game because of his hamstring
 
“His hamstring was tight and he wanted to go a little more but we pulled him out. He didn’t tweak it or anything like that but we will have a better idea in the next couple of days. When he walked off and I talked to him he seemed to feel like he didn’t tweak anything but he was really tight to the point where maybe another sprint [could have made it worse]. You can see the second half he wasn’t really himself when he was sprinting or with his ability to recover back. It was bothering him and I think we took him out in time. I think we will see in the next couple days.”
 
On Paolo Tornaghi’s play tonight
 
“That position is never easy, especially when you need rhythm, you need games. I thought Paolo did well. It’s difficult when you don’t play in a long time to step in. I thought his ability to communicate and talk to the guys and stuff [was good]. He made some good saves. I thought he was good. He’s going to get better, obviously, with more minutes played. It’s a difficult position when you don’t have rhythm to go in and play. He’s an experienced guy even with his young age and I thought he did very well. He does communicate very well with the guys in the back and I think that helps.”
 
Mike Magee, Chicago Fire forward
 
On the result:
 
“Our soccer hasn’t been great at times, obviously we’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot, but we continue to get points since I’ve gotten here.”
 
On his player of the month award:
 
“I’m so excited that we got this win tonight, that’s all that matters.  We’re two points out of a playoff spot with a game in hand.  I know it’s too early to be counting points, but I feel like we are in control of our own destiny, so a win tonight is massive.”
 
On preparing to face Kansas City on a short rest:
 
“We need to get our rest.  Tomorrow we have off, we’ll enjoy our Fourth and hit it hard preparing on Friday.”
 
Dilly Duka, Chicago Fire midfielder
 
On his recent play:
 
“I feel like everything is just going well right now. In a sports career it’s all about moments, it’s a marathon so you have to stay positive and keep going.  I feel like we’re just in a good situation right now and playing confidently.”
 
On his goal and assist in tonight’s game:
 
“I think it was a goal we needed and a goal that was coming.  We put a lot of pressure on them, it finally came and it was a huge relief.”
 
Chris Rolfe, Chicago Fire forward
 
On his confidence scoring in back-to-back games:
 
“Scoring goals is always good for an attacking player.  The game against Orlando was huge for all of us.  I think Dilly [Duka] had great game then also, which translated into his play tonight.  He had a great game, I think Jeff [Larentowicz] played a solid game and overall I think it was probably our most complete game so far this year.”
 
Patrick Nyarko, Chicago Fire midfielder
 
On another comeback performance:
 
“It makes it exciting for our fans but we don’t need to put ourselves in that position to have to try and comeback.  We didn’t mean for it to happen again, it was a broken play right in to their hands.  We need to find consistency in not giving up the first goal.”
 
On Chris Rolfe and Dilly Duka’s recent play:
 
“It opens up everything for everyone because they have to worry about everyone.  They can’t double team because it leaves a guy open.  We got a lot of chances out wide today because they’re focused on everyone.  If they sensed the outside was crowded they’d double team the outside, then Chris [Rolfe] and Mike [Magee] got open.  We played a beautiful game today from the stand point of executing our game plan and breaking down the opponent.  We just hope to keep that confidence going for everyone.” 
 
San Jose Interim Head Coach Mark Watson

On the defensive performance:
 
“Well, first of all I thought overall the performance was pretty good.  We did a lot of good things tonight for a game on the road against a good Chicago team.  We created a lot of chances but we had a few lapses of concentration in the back and that is something you cannot do on the road and expect to get a result. “
 
On possible changes to the defense:
 
“It’s a work in progress.  We have had a lot of different line ups so we’ve been working with the players that we have in the time that we have.  We try to work on all the parts of defending-working as a unit, getting that understanding, making smart decisions on the ball.  It’s not something that happens over night and we will continue to work hard at it.”
 
On perhaps sacrificing the outside backs for a more defensive minded player:
 
“I think Justin [Morrow] and Steve [Beitashour] do go forward well.  We talk a lot about who should go and when and who should stay and when.  It’s something we work on a lot in terms of sending the right numbers forward and keeping the right numbers back to defend.  So we look at that all the time.  One thing I don’t think you can do is sit back and not send anyone forward.  That’s not a way to win a game either.  It’s about finding the right balance and we need to work on that. 
 
On the quality of the goals scored against the Earthquakes versus previous matches:
 
“Well, we are disappointed we lost the game.  We are going to look at the video and try to correct our mistakes looking forward.  But I thought the group was new, there were a lot of changes from the last game so we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare the team.  But we are disappointed with the result and we will keep working.”
 
On Brad Ring’s performance:
 
“I thought Brad did well tonight.  Brad’s a big part of this team.  I know he doesn’t play a lot of minutes but he’s already ready when we need him.  I thought he had a good performance tonight.  What we will do, as a coach, I never really want to speak what happened on the goals, I sit in a spot that has the worst perspective in the stadium on what happened.  I’m going to look at the video before I make any specific comments about the goals.”
 
San Jose Earthquakes Goalkeeper Jon Busch
 
On not coming away with points tonight even after missing so many players:
 
“We are obviously frustrated.  We worked so hard tonight on both sides of the ball.  It’s unfortunate not to come out of here two-two.  Magee miss hits a ball and Rolfe gets on the end of it.  Rolfe is a great goal poacher.  He does that quite a bit.  It’s just frustrating that you think you should get out of there two-two.”
On the defense conceding goals:
 
“I think without looking at the replay the first goal was very fortunate, he scuffs a ball and it somehow gets through two or three guys who are trying to block it and it goes into the corner.  And obviously the game winner-their second goal, Patrick Nyarko makes a good goal, I will give him that.  But the other ones are fortunate for them and unfortunate for us.  What can you say?  That’s the way the ball is bouncing right now.”
 
On working on being a team that is harder to break down defensively:
 
“We just need to keep working.  We weren’t as organized as we would like to be.  We got broken down.  Tomorrow we will look at the tape and makes some adjustments for the weekend.  We have to keep battling and keep organized.  When we are hard to break down we are in every game.  The guys worked their tails off tonight-blocking shots and doing the dirty work.  They are a dynamic team with Rolfe and Magee up top, they test you, they spread you out and for the most part we did very well dealing with them.  There are just a couple plays we could do better on.”
On looking forward against New England and getting some reinforcements:
 
“We’ve got enough talent on this team no matter who is in the lineup to get results on the road, no matter who is missing or suspended.  We’ve got enough talent, that is why the built this team deep.  And the end of the day, we have to get results on the field.”
 
San Jose Earthquakes Defender Jason Hernandez
 
On whether giving up three goals is a fair indicating of their performance tonight:
 
“Um, yes and no.  I think we put in a great effort and did a lot of good things but at the same time, we made mistakes that we got punished for.  I think their first goal was a bit of a muff shot and their third goal was another duff shot that went right to one of their players who was running into its path.  You can call it unlucky but the bottom line is, these are plays that decide a game and we are coming on the wrong side of it more times than not.”
 
On whether he thinks San Jose is getting tougher to break down:
 
“To be honest, I think a lot of games this year we haven’t been completely exposed and look like a flustered or weak defensive team.  I think through the course of a match, I think there are a handful of mistakes that are made and you either get punished for them or not.  I think last year we didn’t get punished for them, and this year we are getting punished for them every single there is a break down.  Unfortunately we are doing a lot of the right things, but we can’t keep the ball out of the net.  That’s the game.”
 
On missing 5 starters:
 
“Any time we set off on a road trip and are missing 5 starters from the match before, you are behind the eight ball already.  We are lucky we have a good team that has guys that can fill those holes.  But it’s a battle.  It’s going to take another strong effort mentally and physically in Boston and we’re going to have to keep grinding and push for a win because time is running short.”
26 June 11:35 pm

Select shots from the Fire's 5-1 win over Orlando City SC

Credit: Brian Kersey, Chicago Fire

22 June 11:54 pm

Select shots from the Fire's 2-1 win over the Crew.

Credit: USA Today Sports Images

20 June 3:03 pm

With all the talk of "Magic" Mike Magee and his ridiculous five goals in five games since joining the Fire, it was always likely that other players would be overlooked.
 
But as much as Magee (or maybe because of him) we’ve seen other players step up and contribute to the Fire’s season-saving June. Midfielders like Alex and Daniel Paladini mitigated the effects of losing Logan Pause, defenders Jalil Anibaba and new addition Bakary Soumare stabilized what was a less than sturdy backline, and up front, Patrick Nyarko, Chris Rolfe, and Sherjill MacDonald selflessly put in the work supporting Magee.
 
But perhaps the most influential non-Magee on the Fire this season has been Jeff Larentowicz. The veteran was brought in this offseason and immediately won a spot in the starting line-up, a spot he proved he deserved with his signature tackling, distribution, and even a game-winning goal early in the season.
 
 
On Wednesday night against Colorado, Larentowicz showed once again why he’s become the platform on which the Fire’s recent surge was built (see his heat map to the right).
 
It was his harrying and tackling that helped change the momentum of the game after Colorado’s early goal (see his 30th minute tackle, and the effort he put in to win a goal kick in his own box a few minutes earlier). Later in the second half, as Colorado pressed to equalize, his header just wide was the Fire’s best chance. 
 
Maybe one ten minute period showed it best: His skill in the 71st minute won the Fire a corner and diffused pressure; his block in the 78th maintained the Fire’s lead.
 
And just like his eagerness this season has led to some ups and downs (including that unfortunate red card at Montreal), his early yellow card for diving in a little over zealously threatened to hamper his effectiveness. Would he hesitate to tackle out of fear of his second yellow?
 
Nope. It seems like he doesn’t let anything shake him off. We’ve talked about “Magee Face”, that expression of all the emotions a soccer game can summon in a person, all the heartbreak and endeavor and passion. “Larentowicz Face” is the opposite. It’s stone cold. It’s not hashtag material. It’s focused and determined and sort of scary.

 


 

That’s why his reaction after his miss in the second half was so endearing. As Fire fans and the My50 announcers celebrated what looked like a goal from certain angles, Larentowicz reacted with unadulterated frustration and anger. In his mind, he should’ve scored, he knew he had it, and as a leader by example, he couldn’t contain the flash of the expectations he has of himself. It was a totally honest moment.
 
As the game Wednesday progressed, Fire fans licked their lips at the prospect of Magee (and later MacDonald), Nyarko, and Rolfe running through wide open spaces in the Colorado defense.
 
But none of the counterattacks panned out. In the end, what defined the end of the game was a little bit of luck, sure, but mostly it was the plucky work of the Fire as a unit, withstanding the pressure and closing it out. Nobody represents that more than Larentowicz, and you could read it on his face.
 
Onwards. Three points. Who’s next?

Ben Schuman-Stoler is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com. Follow him on Twitter @bsto.

 

19 June 11:24 pm
Quote Sheet
Chicago Fire 2 – 1 Colorado Rapids
Toyota Park – June 19, 2013
 
Frank Klopas, Chicago Fire Head Coach
 
Overall thoughts on the win
 
“It’s a team effort. It’s always about the team and I think it was an important game for us in this homestand and we needed to get the three points and we found a way, again, to come back from behind. I’m just proud of the guys because I think we did create, even in the second half, good chances but also they had good looks. And that’s the game. Sometimes things have to go your way. We put the second goal [in], we created some more chances so we could get a little more comfortable lead, but in the end we suffered a little bit but the guys stuck together, they played well, and it was a great three points for us at home.”
 
On Mike Magee’s injury
 
“I think he’s a little bit sore we’ll see better tomorrow. I think he’s got ice on it, hopefully it’s not that bad but three games in seven days, we have to see how guys feel tomorrow and then make some decisions. We have players on the team that we can count on and that’s going to be the case throughout the season.”
 
On if Magee’s injury is a concern
 
“No, I think it’s not that bad but you never know. Tomorrow we will have a better idea. He’s got an ice pack right now. I felt that after that shot, he wasn’t one-hundred-percent and its good that we were able to take him out.”
 
On Austin Berry’s performance today
 
“I think it was a whole team effort. I think Austin is always a guy that is dangerous in the box and we knew that he’s very good in the air. He’s a competitor. The kid leaves everything on the field. He’s played some great matches. I think that every game he goes in and competes and leaves everything for the team on the field and that’s all you can ask for. Fantastic outing today again by him and by the whole.”
 
On if he was worried about Austin Berry after his early mistake to give up the goal
 
“No, not at all because I know him, how he is. I know him very well and I think that’s part of the game. Things happen and you have to move on. You can’t look back and as a team we always look forward and you saw his response. You see how the guy’s mentality is very strong and I think that that’s part of the game, it’s going to happen and you have to move on and we did and I think he responded well and the team responded well. But he’s got a pretty strong mentality and those things don’t faze him. Other guys maybe it’s different but with him I knew there was no issue.”
 
On the team conceding goals in the air recently
 
“I think we got to keep working on our box defending. This is something we have talked about. Baky [Soumare] is someone that’s not new into the group and we have been working on that and that’s crucial…our ability to mark in the box. But that’s not the kind of goal we gave up tonight. But I thought the back line was solid and Sean [Johnson]did a very good job coming out. Inside the box he was the man. He came out, he stopped a lot of plays in the air, but I think as a whole, that’s a crucial part of the game because where are the goals scored from? Inside the box. So our ability to get tight on the wide players so they don’t have easy service and then our ability in the box to defend is something that we work on constantly during the week but I didn’t feel there was an issue tonight. The guys did well. I think Sean [Johnson] was huge for us coming out with his sight and ability to pick up those balls. It was great.”
 
On how Dilly Duka is coming along
 
“We knew Dilly [Duka] and his ability. He’s only going to get better. He had another fantastic game tonight. He made the PK, he was very dangerous, and he’s a young player with a lot of ability. He just keeps getting better and stronger with every match.”
 
On what will be similar and different against Columbus this weekend
 
“We just got to assess where the team is. I think we have depth in the team and there’s opportunities when we play a lot of matches to count on the team as a whole. So we will see where the guys are tomorrow and we will adjust knowing that we have 3 games in 7 days but we will have a better picture of where guys are tomorrow. Like I said, we got to rely on the team and these are the times where you do that. I have confidence in the whole group.”
 
Austin Berry, Chicago Fire defender
 
On going down early in games
 
“A lot of it is our own fault, obviously tonight it was my fault.  There aren’t a lot of teams breaking us down and beating us, so if we shore things up from our end that should eliminate the early goals.”
 
On his mistake that led to the first goal
 
“Basically, I passed the ball to him.  I couldn’t have helped him out anymore. I was too lazy on the ball.  I didn’t play quickly enough and he caught me.”
 
On scoring after a mistake which lead to a Colorado goal
 
“I think this is the third time since last year that I’ve made a mistake, then come back to score a goal.”
 
On the unbeaten streak
 
“It feels good. Even early in the season we kept a good mindset.  We were still focused on the goals at hand and now we’re starting to score some goals and get the victories.  It feels good to be rewarded for all our hard work.”
 
On pattern of going down early, like last season
 
“It’s great that we can get good results to make up for our mistakes.  We have to remember not to get down on ourselves, but like we keep saying, we can’t always rely on coming back; sometimes we aren’t going to be able to put goals in the net.  Luckily tonight we were able to get that goal back in the first half, I think that was key to the victory.”
 
Patrick Nyarko, Chicago Fire midfielder
 
On giving up the early goal
 
“We need to have great concentration coming out of the gates.  I can’t wrap my mind around it happening today because I thought we were playing really well – we were creating chances and getting possession in the midfield.  The goal was just a bad mistake, but it happens.  But it let you see how strong the kid is, he came back and scored a goal and we won the game.  Giving up the early goals has got to stop.  Personally, I think it was better today because we had control of the game.”
 
On the game plan in the second half
 
“I think in the first half we handled ourselves pretty well.  It wasn’t the perfect game, but I think we were on top.  This was one of our better games all year putting the first and second halves together.  Last game we played better in the second half, but not so much in the first half.  This game we didn’t let them play to their strengths.  We dominated them, not entirely, just enough to win.”
 
Mike Magee, Chicago Fire forward
 
On the five goals in five games streak
 
“If I start talking about that it won’t be six in six, so no comment.”
 
On the PK
 
“The only thing you need to know about that goal is Dilly [Duka].  He did an incredible job to beat his guy.  He was going one on one with Marvell Wynne, which is a pretty daunting task – he just went at him.  The finish was pretty simple.”
 
On his leadership on the field
 
“The intention is to help the team win.  Tonight wasn’t even my best game.  I thought Jeff Larentowicz was fantastic, I thought Patrick Nyarko was fantastic and my only job tonight was to tap in a penalty kick so not much credit should go to me.”
 
Oscar Pareja, Colorado Rapids Head Coach
 
On what he saw tonight
 
“Our team had a very good start to the match.  We created some chances and I think we controlled the game.  The plan we designed with the boys at the beginning of the game went very well.  Unfortunately we gave up one play in the first half, where Magee took the penalty kick and scored.  Second half I thought it was tight; Chicago pushed and found an early goal in the second half off a set piece.  We reacted and we had chances to equalize but at that point, I thought the game was back and forth.  Chicago waited for us and they didn’t move their line up from the back.  Also, we tried to have the initiate to create chances and they tried to play on the counter.  Again, it could have gone both ways.  Unfortunately for us, it went to them.”
 
On feeling like they could at least had a point tonight
 
“You always think that you can get more.  At this point we have learned our lessons and we cannot keep saying we deserve more.  We just need to make it happen on the field.  We have to get the points and the points sometimes you get the points by doing the small things all the time.  I thought today we mostly were good and we had initiative but we still made some mistakes and it cost us.”
 
On the second game in a row where the defense allowed two goals
 
“We’re concerned about it.  It’s just something we were showing a lot of improvement and now in the last three we have let in goals.  That’s our main concern now.  I think it’s a bunch of little things.  We can’t point out just one, because when you attack and you defend it’s a collective effort.  We attack as a unit, we defend as a unit.  When we correct the defensive mistakes we have to see the whole team.”
 
On Chicago’s second goal and if it was offside
 
“No, I didn’t see it.  I didn’t have replay where I was.  Unfortunately I couldn’t be on the line.  I would have to see it again.  It looks to me he was off, but I have to see it and judge well.  At that point, I thought the assistant referee had him and I hope it’s not the case.”
 
On Martin Rivero’s injury
 
“He felt some tightness in his quad.  He’s a bit confused now-he’s not sure if it’s a knock there or a pull in his muscle.  We’ll be waiting for the doctors.”
 
On getting ready for Portland
 
“It’s a mental stage for us.  We had a good stretch of games where we were getting points and winning, now we had some games where we got no points.  So it’s a mental game now.  We have to prepare our team mentally and we will jump over this hurdle that we have.”
 
Deshorn Brown, Colorado Rapids Forward
 
On the match
 
“I think it was just a tough loss tonight.  We go out there and get the first goal and we thought we had the game in hand.  The team turned around and started to harm us.  We had some chances that we should have put away.  We didn’t make the chances and that turned around and hurt us.”
 
On his goal
 
“I saw the defender play back to his other defender.  I just read the play and kept going, hoping he would make a mistake, and he did.  Just got into an one-on-one with the goalkeeper and put it into the back of the net.”
 
On scoring 3 goals and four assists in his rookie season
 
“I think I’m doing pretty good and trying to get used to the league more and understand how to play a lot better so I will keep pushing myself.  Hopefully as time goes on, we progress and get ready for Portland on Sunday.”
 
On what the team needs to do to prepare for Portland
 
“We need to get some rest, and focus on the mistakes we made in this game and correct them.  Make sure we go to Portland, and switch on, do the right thing and get three points and go home happy.”