Brian Kersey Chicago Fire
CHICAGO, Ill. – The Chicago Fire (8-6-4; 28 points) had their chances but were undone twice by Robbie Keane as the LA Galaxy (7-10-2; 23 points) handed the Fire a 2-0 defeat Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park.
The Fire had the better of the play early on and came close in the sixth minute when Dominic Oduro knocked down a lobbed ball from Gonzalo Segares. Fire winger Patrick Nyarko settled before springing Oduro into the box but Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza came through with a saving tackle to keep things level in the sixth minute.
The visitors responded right away when Juninho switched the field for Hector Jimenez on the right wing. The second-year midfielder drove up the flank before centering a ball for Chad Barrett and the former Fire forward’s first-time effort cut just above the bar eight minutes in.
Just three minutes later the Fire would see their best chance of the half go begging. Pavel Pardo’s in-swinging corner from the right found the head of Austin Berry who flicked his effort towards the back post. Galaxy defender David Junior Lopes kept the ball in play and it fell right for Jalil Anibaba but the Fire right back blasted his effort wide right of goal.
In the 14th minute Patrick Nyarko made a penetrating run towards the box out of midfield but was chopped down by Lopes 22 yards from goal. Referee Jair Marrufo showed the Galaxy defender a caution but the resulting free kick from Marco Pappa went well over the bar.
The Galaxy would take a step towards the victory in the 24th minute when Robbie Keane’s cross from the left hit the hand of Anibaba on the edge of the area. Marrufo pointed to the penalty spot and the Irish international sent Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson the wrong way with his low effort inside the right post, giving the Galaxy a 1-0 lead.
The Fire would come close again just before the break as Chris Rolfe ran onto a ball from Arne Friedrich up the right. The veteran Fire attacker settled before sending a cross for Nyarko who headed back across the goal just missing the run of Oduro, leaving the Galaxy ahead 1-0 going into the locker room.
Halftime substitute Alex took little time to make his presence known, picking up a loose ball at midfield and striding towards goal before being chopped down by Sean Franklin 25 yards away. On the ensuing free kick, Pardo drove a powerful blast to the top left corner which forced Galaxy ‘keeper Josh Saunders to parry over the bar and out for a corner kick in the 49th minute.
The Galaxy responded when a turnover at the back saw Juninho slide Keane into the box. The Irish striker held the ball up and played it back for Juninho who rifled his effort straight into the arms of Sean Johnson in the 64th minute.
The hosts came close to equalizing in the 77th minute as Segares made a deep run up the left before cutting in and centering for Rolfe at the top of the area. The diminutive forward rocketed a low blast that forced Saunders into a diving stop.
Pushing numbers forward as they looked for the equalizer, the Galaxy would punish the Fire defense a minute later when second half substitute Landon Donovan dispossessed Rolfe at midfield. With only two defenders back, the U.S. international and MLS All-Star slid the ball to an unmarked Keane who hit an easy effort inside the left post to send the visitors away victorious with a 2-0 score line.
The Fire return to action as they host the Vancouver Whitecaps at Toyota Park next Saturday, July 14 at 7:30 p.m. CT live on CSN Chicago and 97.5 FM ESPN Deportes.
Sunday’s match was Presented by Quaker Oats.
The defeat takes the Fire’s 2012 record to 8-6-4.
The Men in Red are 5-2-2 in matches played at Toyota Park this season.
The Fire are 2-4-1 in matches played against Western Conference foes.
In matches played on national English-language television the Fire are 3-1-0.
Fire defender Arne Friedrich played the full 90 for the first time since returning from a right hamstring strain suffered May 12.
Sean Johnson faced the 12th penalty kick of his three-year career. The 23-year-old ‘keeper is 4-12 all-time on penalty kicks.
Chicago Fire 0 – 2 LA Galaxy
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares; Logan Pause © (Alex 46’), Pavel Pardo; Patrick Nyarko, Chris Rolfe (Orr Barouch 79’), Marco Pappa; Dominic Oduro (Rafael Robayo 67’)
Substitutes not used: Jay Nolly, Dan Gargan, Hunter Jumper, Daniel Paladini
LA Galaxy: Josh Saunders; A.J. DeLaGarza, Sean Franklin, David Junior Lopes, Todd Dunivant; Hector Jimenez (Bryan Jordan 60’), Juninho (Bryan Gaul 73’), Marcelo Sarvas, Michael Stephens; Chad Barrett (Landon Donovan 65’), Robbie Keane ©
Substitutes not used: Brian Perk, Omar Gonzalez, Tommy Meyer, Mike Magee
LA – Robbie Keane (penalty kick) 24’
LA – Robbie Keane (Landon Donovan) 78’
LA – Juninho (caution, Dissent) 14’
LA – David Junior Lopes (caution, Foul) 14’
CHI – Marco Pappa (caution, Foul) 78’
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Assistants: Eric Boria, Adam Garner
Fourth Official: Fotis Bazakos