Fire top Columbus despite red card in gutsy 2-1 win
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — Down a man for most of the night, the Chicago Fire ended the Columbus Crew’s six-game unbeaten streak with a 2-1 win on Saturday at Toyota Park.
The Fire used their 29 minutes with 11 men to their benefit, leading 2-0 before Gonzalo Segares’s errant tackle earned him a straight red card.
After a great start, the Fire looked on their way to another resounding victory after Sunday’s 3-1 win over New York.
In the second minute, Marco Pappa’s right-footed blast from 25 yards was too hot for goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum and flew into the back of the net.
Dominic Oduro was sprung free in the 21st minute by a no-look pass from Sebastian Grazzini, but his breakaway shot went wide.
GOAL: Pappa strikes early
The Ghanaian forward made up for his errant shot four minutes later when Grazzini again sprung him with a through ball, and this time his shot beat Gruenebaum to put the Fire up two.
But Chicago’s momentum was stymied in the 29th minute, when Segares’s studs-up challenge caught Crew midfielder Kevan George on the inside of the knee.
Six minutes later, Tony Tchani put the Crew on the board, beating Sean Johnson with a low shot after receiving a pass from Chris Birchall and blowing by two Fire defenders.
Tchani came close to equalizing when his left-footed shot from 20 yards out squeaked over the cross bar just before half time.
In the 57th minute, Josh Williams almost leveled the score, blasting a header off of a Nemanja Vukovic free kick, but Sean Johnson made a one-handed, diving save.
Chicago had a few chances, including a shot from inside the penalty area that went over the cross bar and a header from Jalil Anibaba that went just inches by the post.
But the 10-man Fire dug in and put in a solid defensive effort, to pull out the win.
The Fire were able to stick out a short-handed victory and maintain their post-international break momentum after a two-week slide. They’ll try to keep their roll going next Friday at Sporting Kansas City.
The Crew had momentum before the international break, racking up 11 points in five games, but two road games since have yielded just one point. Columbus will host Western Conference-leading Real Salt Lake next week.
Anthony Zillis covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Dominic Oduro||The lightning quick forward caused Columbus problems all night. He slotted home clinically and should have had a penalty.|
|2||Sean Johnson||Chicago's young 'keeper made some huge stops, including a great reflex save in the 59th minute. A cool head at the back.|
|3||Tony Tchani||Grabbed himself a goal and put in a tireless display to get his team back in the game, shame his efforts were in vain.|