Patrick Nyarko sounded confused in the Chicago Fire locker room, trying to explain why his team conceded a late goal to drop Saturday night’s home opener against the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1. The Virginia Tech product said he thought the Fire outplayed the Earthquakes, and he wasn’t exactly sure why the match finished the way it did.
“It’s just a real disappointment,” Nyarko said. “I was telling the other players that ever since last year we played the best soccer at home, we dominated the game and eventually end up losing and it just sucks. It’s very strange because we get punished by any mistake we make. It’s weird.”
One answer that Nyarko—and everyone else for that matter—can rule out as a possible explanation of the Fire’s defeat is the individual play of the third-year winger out of Virginia Tech.
Nyarko once again dazzled Saturday night, consistently tormenting the San Jose back line with dangerous run after dangerous run down the right flank. The 24-year-old Ghanaian winger played the role of provider to near perfection in the Fire’s home opener, starting the movement that led to Marco Pappa’s goal and providing forward Collins John with two fantastic chances to score.
“I was pleased with my performance,” Nyarko said. “I hope I keep getting better every week and try to create more chances, get more scoring chances, and bang in some goals to help my team win.”
At this point, Nyarko playing well hardly comes as a surprise. He made 28 regular-season appearances for the Fire last season and—for the most part—he looked good. Whether it was off the bench or in a starter’s role, Nyarko always outhustled and outworked every player on the pitch, and often his determination would pay dividends for the Fire attack.
But Nyarko’s solid play of 2009 is nothing compared to his first three games of 2010. He has been a revelation on the wing, one of the lone bright spots for head coach Carlos de los Cobos during the Fire’s dismal 0-2-1 start to the season.
“It’s two things,” Nyarko said of the reasons for his hot start. “I think one is maturity and the other one is confidence. … The last couple of years I didn’t think my play was that bad, but there were some times that I was a little conservative in my play. But this year I’ve decided to be more aggressive and I think it’s pretty much working.”
Indeed it is. But Nyarko will need a little help from his teammates if the Fire is to improve on their early season struggles. He has been a bright spot, but the club needs all its players to play well if they want to right the ship sometime soon.