FINAL: Fire 2 - 0 Rapids
The suddenly surging Chicago Fire won their second game in a row Saturday night, getting first half goals from forward Dominic Oduro and defender Cory Gibbs to defeat the Colorado Rapids 2-0 in front of 15,211 at Toyota Park.
Oduro opened the scoring in the 17th minute, racing past Colorado defender Tyrone Marshall to slot home from 10 yards out. Gibbs doubled Chicago’s advantage in the 35th minute, nodding home midfielder Sebastian Grazzini’s cross from five yards out.
The loss was the first in nine games across all competitions for Colorado, who looked fatigued following Tuesday’s tough CONCACAF Champions League draw in Honduras against Real Espana.
The Fire started nicely, putting the road-weary Rapids on the back foot for most of the first half.
Chicago had their first chance in the sixth minute. Forward Patrick Nyarko stole the ball from Rapids defender Kosuke Kimura deep in the final third and rolled a good cross to the middle, only for midfielder Marco Pappa to blast the close-range effort well over the bar.
Oduro put the Fire ahead 11 minutes later. The speedy striker collected midfielder Pavel Pardo’s long ball on the right wing, edging past Marshall before slotting his 10-yard shot inside the far post for his ninth goal of the year.
The Rapids had their best chance of the half in the 28th minute. Defender Drew Moor got on the end of forward Sanna Nyassi’s corner at the top of the six-yard-box, sending his free header off of a Fire defender and just wide of the near post.
Gibbs made it 2-0 in the 35th minute. Pardo played a great ball to Grazzini on the left side, allowing the Argentine playmaker to loft a cross that Gibbs powerfully headed home from six yards out.
Colorado seemed to wake up a bit after Gibbs’s goal, nearly pulling one back in the 40th minute. Nyassi collected a bouncing ball at the top of the box and hit a strong side-volley that Fire goalie Sean Johnson did well to keep out.
The influential Pardo came off at halftime due to a groin strain, but Chicago didn’t miss a beat, controlling the early stages of the second half.
Nyarko should’ve made it 3-0 in the 53rd minute. The Ghanaian forward intercepted a pass in the attacking third and went in for a one-on-one with Colorado keeper Matt Pickens, but didn’t pull the trigger quick enough, shooting wide after getting closed down.
Colorado made a pair of attacking substitutions in the second half, bringing forwards Omar Cummings and Mac Kandji into the match.
Neither made much of a difference however, with the Rapids failing to muster anything resembling a chance until the 84th minute, when Nyassi forced Pardo-replacement Daniel Paladini into a goal line clearance with a long shot through traffic.
Chicago saw out the rest of the match with relative ease. They now have 27 points on the year, just five behind the New York Red Bulls for the 10th and final playoff spot. The Fire are back in action on Tuesday, hosting the USL’s Richmond Kickers in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals.
Colorado will now get some much-needed time off, not playing again until Sept. 9 at LA.