CARSON, Calif. — A wild back-and-forth match at the Home Depot Center saw the Chicago Fire top the LA Galaxy, 3-2, handing the Galaxy their first home loss of the season. LA’s comeback attempt, led by two penalties by Landon Donovan, came up short as the club fell to their second loss this week.
The Fire scored early and often with three goals inside of the first 20 minutes of play, courtesy of Marco Pappa, Collins John, and Mike Banner. Los Angeles pulled two back on Donovan’s penalty kicks, one on each side of the halftime break, but Bruce Arena’s side was unable to finish several other good chances.
After Edson Buddlehad a breakaway stopped by Chicago debutant goalkeeperSean Johnson, the Fire struck in the 4th minute to open the scoring. The Fire caught the Galaxy on an impressive counter. Baggio Husidic played in a wonderful through ball to a streaking Pappa, who easily placed his shot past Donovan Ricketts.
The Fire then added a second just a minute later. Patrick Nyarko unlocked the defense with a pass into Collins John, and the burly Dutchman slammed a shot past Ricketts at near post.
With the Galaxy’s once vaunted defense exposing holes, the Fire capitalized again in the 19th minute. Pappa’s shot was saved by Ricketts, but the ball fell kindly to midfielder Mike Banner, who fired a full volley into the back of the net.
The Fire’s three goals marked the first time this season that the Galaxy had given up more than two goals in an MLS match.
The Galaxy, however, have the best record in the league for a reason. They pulled one goal back late in the first half after Michael Stephens was brought down in the box by Nyarko. Donovan coolly fired home the penalty for his 100th career regular season MLS Goal.
Los Angeles piled on the pressure in the second half. However, they were unable to capitalize: Buddle earned a golden opportunity in the 50th minute after a pinpoint Donovan pass, but goalkeeper Sean Johnson came up big to preserve the result.
The Galaxy made it exciting in the closing minutes after Donovan converted another penalty in the 80th minute. A handball in the box by a Chicago defender prompted referee Silviu Petrescu to point to the spot for the second time on the night. The Galaxy captain calmly stroked the goal past Johnson to pull Los Angeles within one.
With momentum, the Galaxy peppered the Chicago goal again and again in the final 10 minutes, however, Johnson came up with the save each time. In the 85th minute, he made a brilliant save on an Alan Gordon header to preserve the three points for Chicago.
Freddie Ljungberg made his first appearance for the Fire since his trade from Seattle on Friday. He subbed on in the 58th minute, but failed to have much impact on the proceedings.
The loss was the Galaxy’s third of the season, though the side remains top of the Western Conference, six points ahead of Real Salt Lake. For the Fire, the win snaps a two-game losing streak.
CHI -- Marco Pappa 7 (Baggio Husidic 3) 4
CHI -- Collins John 2 (Patrick Nyarko 7) 5
CHI -- Mike Banner 1 (unassisted) 19
LA -- Landon Donovan 4 (penalty kick) 37
LA -- Landon Donovan 5 (penalty kick) 81
Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Dasan Robinson, C.J. Brown, Wilman Conde,Krzysztof Krol, Mike Banner, Logan Pause, Patrick Nyarko (Deris Umanzor 65), Baggio Husidic (Steven Kinney 75), Marco Pappa (Freddie Ljungberg 58), Collins John.
Los Angeles Galaxy -- Donovan Ricketts, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter (Alex Cazumba 78), Todd Dunivant, Michael Stephens (Alan Gordon 71), Chris Birchall (Dema Kovalenko 54), Jovan Kirovski, Landon Donovan,Tristan Bowen, Edson Buddle.
LA -- Tristan Bowen (caution; Reckless Tackle) 23
CHI -- Patrick Nyarko (caution; Reckless Foul) 36
LA -- Jovan Kirovski (caution; Reckless Tackle) 45
LA -- Chris Birchall (caution; Reckless Foul) 54
LA -- Dema Kovalenko (caution; Reckless Tackle) 66
LA -- Todd Dunivant (caution; Reckless Foul) 68
CHI -- Sean Johnson (caution; Lack of Respect for Game) 93+
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Referee's Assistants: Fabio Tovar; Adam Garner
4th Official: Baldomero Toledo
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-69-degrees