Nyarko dazzles in otherwise dull Chicago start

Winger providing Fire their spark, despite winless start

Patrick Nyarko

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Patrick Nyarko sounded confused in the Chicago Fire locker
room, trying to explain why his team conceded a late goal to drop Saturday
night’s home opener against the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1. The Virginia Tech
product said he thought the Fire outplayed the Earthquakes, and he wasn’t
exactly sure why the match finished the way it did.

“It’s just a real disappointment,” Nyarko said. “I was
telling the other players that ever since last year we played the best soccer
at home, we dominated the game and eventually end up losing and it just sucks. It’s
very strange because we get punished by any mistake we make. It’s weird.”

One answer that Nyarko—and everyone else for that matter—can
rule out as a possible explanation of the Fire’s defeat is the individual play
of the third-year winger out of Virginia Tech.

Nyarko once again dazzled Saturday night, consistently
tormenting the San Jose back line with dangerous run after dangerous run down
the right flank. The 24-year-old Ghanaian winger played the role of provider to
near perfection in the Fire’s home opener, starting the movement that led to
Marco Pappa’s goal and providing forward Collins John with two fantastic
chances to score.

“I was pleased with my performance,” Nyarko said. “I hope I
keep getting better every week and try to create more chances, get more scoring
chances, and bang in some goals to help my team win.”

At this point, Nyarko playing well hardly comes as a
surprise. He made 28 regular-season appearances for the Fire last season and—for
the most part—he looked good. Whether it was off the bench or in a starter’s
role, Nyarko always outhustled and outworked every player on the pitch, and
often his determination would pay dividends for the Fire attack.

But Nyarko’s solid play of 2009 is nothing compared to his
first three games of 2010. He has been a revelation on the wing, one of the
lone bright spots for head coach Carlos de los Cobos during the Fire’s dismal
0-2-1 start to the season.

“It’s two things,” Nyarko said of the reasons for his hot
start. “I think one is maturity and the other one is confidence. … The last
couple of years I didn’t think my play was that bad, but there were some times
that I was a little conservative in my play. But this year I’ve decided to be
more aggressive and I think it’s pretty much working.”

Indeed it is. But Nyarko will need a little help from his
teammates if the Fire is to improve on their early season struggles. He has
been a bright spot, but the club needs all its players to play well if they
want to right the ship sometime soon.