Fire Players Bring Playoff Experience to Wednesday's Knockout Match
Chris Rolfe – The player with the best individual stats of the group of eight, Rolfe has started in every playoff game he’s been eligible for (14) since his rookie year of 2005. The 2012 Chicago Fire MVP and Golden Boot winner’s four goals rank him third on the club’s playoff scoring list, just one behind Dema Kovalenko and has added two assists since his first playoff appearance on October 21, 2005 vs. D.C. United.
To me, there is a tie for Rolfe’s best playoff performances: The 2007 Eastern Conference semifinals against D.C. where he tallied in both legs of the 3-2 aggregate victory or the 2008 Eastern Conference semifinal against New England where he scored the opener before assisting on Gonzalo Segares’ late 74th minute tap-in to defeat the Revolution 3-0.
Logan Pause – Part of the team since 2003, Pause appeared in one match during the team’s run to that season’s MLS Cup final. Since that time, the Fire captain has racked up 13 appearances and enters this year’s MLS Cup playoffs having started each of the team’s last nine postseason matches.
Gonzalo Segares – Much like his regular season form, the Costa Rican defender had been a fixture for the Fire at left back during the MLS postseason, appearing in 12 straight playoff matches from 2005-09 before injuries kept him out of the final two matches that year vs. New England and Real Salt Lake.
Segares tallied what looked to be a tying goal late in the 2005 Eastern Conference Final vs. the Revolution but was judged to have just been offside with the stoppage time strike. He’d get some revenge three years later as he finished off Rolfe’s cross in the 3-0 Conference semi-final win over New England at Toyota Park.
Patrick Nyarko – The Ghanaian winger has never started an MLS Cup playoff game, having been used as a substitute in each of his four games. Nyarko’s first postseason match came when he entered in the 70th minute of the 2008 Eastern Conference final loss to Columbus, leading him to make all three appearances in the 2009 postseason.
It was in the second leg of the Eastern Conference finals that year that Nyarko showed the clutch player he could be, displaying a great individual effort down the right before laying off for Cuauhtemoc Blanco to tally the series winner of New England.
Wells Thompson – The player on the roster with the deepest playoff experience, Thompson is also the only one two win MLS Cup, playing in three of four games en route to Colorado’s 2010 title. Thompson also played all four matches in New England’s march to the 2007 MLS Cup final, playing all 90 minutes in the Revs 2-1 loss to Houston.
ecause of his time with the Revolution, interestingly enough five of his 14 playoff appearances have came against the Fire from 2007-09, with the current Fire midfielder assisting on Taylor Twellman’s 38th minute goal that helped New England past Chicago 1-0 in the 2007 Eastern Conference Final.
Alvaro Fernandez – Flaco appeared in all four of the Seattle Sounders playoff games the past two seasons, as the team fell to the LA Galaxy in 2010 and Real Salt Lake in the 2011 Western Conference Finals.
Dan Gargan – Fire utility defender Dan Gargan has the longest time between playoff appearances, with his pair of postseason matches dating back to 2006 with the Colorado Rapids. Gargan went the full 90 in the Rapids 2-1 loss to FC Dallas in the Western Conference semifinal first leg and came on as a sub in the club’s 3-1 Conference final loss to eventual champions Houston.
Dominic Oduro – Fire substitute striker Dominic Oduro has appeared in five MLS Cup playoff matches, playing in two games for FC Dallas in their 4-2 aggregate Conference semifinal loss to Houston in 2007.
Two years later he would suit up for the same Dynamo team in all three of their games where they eventually felly 1-0 to the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference final.