Friday’s come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Chivas USA was one of the best endings to a Fire match in recent memory. The way Marco Pappa’s goal was scored, with a great buildup that started with Pavel Pardo in the Fire end and saw both offseason signings Federico Puppo and Rafael Robayo play a part, showed the wide-spread depth in which Frank Klopas’ can rely on to produce in the attack this season.
What made the effort even more special is that it came between four players that are great friends off the field.
“Myself, Rafa, Marco, Pavel and Sebastian [Grazzini] hang out a lot together,” Puppo told Chicago-Fire.com on Monday. “When you’re such good friends off the field, on the field it’s like you’re brothers. I think that’s what you see when you see us playing together.”
Brought in over the offseason to help bolster the Fire attack, the South American duo of Puppo and Robayo have mainly played substitute roles as they’ve settled into the team. Looking to take the three points from a match the squad had thoroughly dominated, Robayo entered for Grazzini in the 78th minute while Puppo came on in the 86th for Dominic Oduro.
Their presence helped keep the Fire offense churning and eventually spurred the buildup that resulted in Pappa’s 93rd minute game-winner.
And while Puppo was given the lone assist on the strike, he credits his Colombian teammate for heeding his frantic signal of “RAFA! RAFA!”, to leave the ball as he ran onto it before making the final pass to Pappa.
“I feel good [about everything],” said Robayo. “I’m working hard and having fun and the coach is the one who decides the minutes I play. The important thing is that the team won on Friday and I did the correct things in the time I played to help the team get three points.”
Puppo echoed Robayo’s sentiment and pointed to this week’s two home matches (vs. Real Salt Lake Wednesday and Sporting KC Saturday) as must-win games.
“The most important thing was getting three points,” he said “We lost to Seattle in our house [on April 28] and we needed to make up for it on the road. We went to LA with commitment knowing we needed three points and we did it in the last minute. We’re all working hard for this week’s games and we expect to win all of our games at home.”