Ten-Man Chicago Fire Earn 1-0 Victory Over Vancouver Whitecaps FC
CHICAGO, Ill. (July 14, 2012) – The Chicago Fire (9-6-4; 31 points) used an early free kick from Pavel Pardo before a 10-man defensive effort earned the team a 1-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps FC (8-6-6; 30 points) Saturday night at Toyota Park.
The Fire threatened early on as Brazilian midfielder Alex played a combo to send Gonzalo Segares up the left flank. The Costa Rican international took the space and looped in a cross for Chris Rolfe who hit his first-time effort wide left of goal in the fourth minute.
Moments later Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko continued the dangerous attacking play he’s shown all season as he slid through the Vancouver defense before drawing a ninth minute foul just outside the box by Jun Marques Davidson. On the ensuing free kick a minute later, Pavel Pardo stepped up and lofted a perfect right-footed ball over the Whitecaps backline and inside the left post to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
The Fire nearly made it 2-0 in the 23rd minute as Dominic Oduro forced a turnover at midfield. The bouncing ball fell to Chris Rolfe who slid his ball through two Whitecaps FC defenders to put Oduro into the box but the Ghanaians effort was thwarted by a charging Joe Cannon.
Vancouver would find their first good attempt on goal in the 28th minute when Gershon Koffie played a ball into stride for lone striker Darren Mattocks but his shot just outside the area was well held by Sean Johnson.
Making his first MLS start since joining the Fire last month, Alex would show some flair five minutes later. Pardo headed down a bouncing ball in the center circle and the Brazilian midfielder ran through the middle of the park unchallenged before unleashing a dipping drive that cut just wide left of Cannon’s goal in the 34th minute.
Alex would be shown a yellow card in the 41st minute for a foul on Whitecaps midfielder Gershon Koffie 35 yards from goal, resulting in a dangerous free kick opportunity for the visitors. Vancouver midfielder Barry Robson stepped up and whistled his effort just over Johnson’s goal, taking the Fire into the half ahead 1-0.
The visitors showed a desire for more offense by subbing on newly acquired attacker Dane Richards at the break and came close just four minutes into the second half when Koffie fought off challenges to slip Mattocks into the box but his low effort was punched away by Johnson in the 49th minute.
In the 52nd minute the Ghanaian tandem of Nyarko and Oduro would combine to work the ball up the right before Nyarko centered for his countryman who’s shot went high over the bar.
The Fire thought they’d found their second goal just a minute later when Alex distributed the ball to Rolfe on the left side. The veteran attacker cut inside the box and threaded his shot between two defenders where Dominic Oduro knocked it down before hitting it to the back of the net but the Ghanaian was quickly ruled to be offside leaving things at 1-0.
Frank Klopas’ side kept pushing, utilizing Alex as the catalyst. The Brazilian midfielder would test the Whitecaps FC backline again in the 55th minute when he received Logan Pause’s pass, turned his defender and unleashed a blistering low effort that the veteran Cannon did well to hang onto.
Just as it looked like the Fire would find a second goal, the match would turn on its head beginning in the 67th minute when Fire defender Arne Friedrich was shown a yellow card for a late challenge on Mattocks at midfield
Two minutes later, the speedy Jamaican forward ran on to a through ball between Friedrich and Fire center back Austin Berry before going down just yards outside the penalty area. Referee Jose Carlos Rivero took little time to shown the German defender his second yellow in as many minutes, resulting in his sending off from the match.
It took the Whitecaps FC a while to key in on the man advantage but the visitors would come closest to equalizing in the 87th minute. Working his way up the right, Young-Pyo Lee belted in a whipping cross that substitute striker Eric Hassli redirected towards goal, forcing Johnson to tip the ball out for a corner kick.
A series of corner kicks went without a goal and the Fire did well to hold possession at the other end of the field before Rivero blew the final whistle, giving the Men in Red a hard-earned 1-0 victory.
The Fire travel to take on the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, July 18 at 12:00 p.m. CT live on CSN Chicago and 97.5 FM ESPN Deportes. The Men in Red will return home for an international friendly with Aston Villa Presented by TrueCar at Toyota Park on Saturday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m. CT. Advance tickets are available by calling 888-MLS-Fire, by visiting www.Chicago-Fire.com or Ticketmaster. The international friendly will serve as Bonus Game 1 in the Fire’s Season Ticket Package, and is also a part of the Ten Game Plan.
With the win, the Fire move to 9-6-4 (31 points) on the 2012 campaign. Only four MLS teams (Sporting KC, D.C. United, San Jose Earthquakes and Real Salt Lake) have more than nine wins on the season.
Frank Klopas’ side improves its home record to 6-2-2 this season.
The victory ties the Fire equals the club’s MLS regular season win total from each of the past two years just 19 matches into the season.
Pavel Pardo’s 10th minute goal was his second in a Fire shirt and first since his 54th minute equalizer in a 1-1 draw vs. Philadelphia on August 3, 2011 at Toyota Park.
Sean Johnson made four saves to tally his fourth shutout of the season and 14th of his MLS career.
With his red card, Arne Friedrich will serve a one-match suspension during the team’s game Wednesday, July 18 at New York.
Marco Pappa sat out the match after suffering from an upper respiratory infection during the week.
Chicago Fire 1 – 0 Vancouver Whitecaps
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich (ejection 69’), Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares; Logan Pause ©, Pavel Pardo; Chris Rolfe, Alex (Dan Gargan 71’), Patrick Nyarko (Rafael Robayo 78’); Dominic Oduro (Corben Bone 65’)
Substitutes not used: Jay Nolly, Daniel Paladini, Marco Pappa, Federico Puppo
Vancouver Whitecaps: Joe Cannon; Lee Young-Pyo, Jay DeMerit ©, Martin Bonjour (Eric Hassli 75’), Jordan Harvey, Barry Robson, Jun Marques Davidson, Gerson Koffie, Alain Rochat (Dane Richards 46’), Michael Nanchoff (Camilo 59’); Darren Mattocks
Substitutes not used: Brad Knighton, Carlyle Mitchell, Greg Klazura, Russell Teibert
CHI – Pavel Pardo (unassisted) 10’
VAN – Darren Mattocks (caution; Foul) 12’
CHI – Gonzalo Segares (caution; Foul) 36’
CHI – Alex (caution; Foul) 41’
VAN – Alain Rochat (caution; Off the Ball Foul) 43’
CHI – Arne Friedrich (caution; Foul) 67’
CHI – Arne Friedrich (caution; Foul) 69’
CHI – Arne Friedrich (ejection; Second Yellow Card) 69’
Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
Assistants: Adam Wienckowski, Peter Manikowski
Fourth Official: Abby Okulaja