CHICAGO, Ill. – On a night where the Chicago Fire (3-2-3; 12pts.) inducted 13-year club veteran C.J. Brown into the ‘Ring of Fire’, the home side fought hard throughout and kept a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw vs. Real Salt Lake (7-3-2; 23pts.) Wednesday night at Toyota Park.
The Fire nearly took the lead right out of the gate when defender Dan Gargan collected a cross-field pass from Logan Pause and sent Patrick Nyarko up the right flank. The speedy Ghanaian drove to the endline, sending a cross for Dominic Oduro which saw the striker nod his effort off the crossbar in the fourth minute of play.
Six minutes later the Fire threatened again as Marco Pappa played a quick combination with defender Gonzalo Segares in midfield. Segares collected and sent Pappa in on the left where the Guatemalan international fired a quick shot that RSL ‘keeper Kyle Reynish parried away before it was cleared in the 10th minute.
Salt Lake took their first crack in the 16th minute when a seemingly harmless ball from Alvaro Saborio on the right deflected off of Pavel Pardo and into the visitor’s attack. The play caught Fire rookie defender Austin Berry wrong-footed, allowing striker Paulo Junior a low effort that he sent wide left of Sean Johnson’s goal.
A long stretch of possession play saw both teams lack chances through the middle of the half before the Fire nearly took the lead into the half. Fire captain Logan Pause slid in to dispossess Ned Grabavoy on the sideline, leaving the ball for Pappa. The Guatemalan worked towards the middle before laying off for Pardo who took his space and fired a 30-yard blast just over Reynish’s goal, taking the teams into the break deadlocked.
It was the visitors who took the early initiative in the second half when Jonny Steele settled the ball on the left before playing a central pass for Grabavoy. The former Chicago Fire PDL product one-touched for Paulo Junior who unleashed a blast from 25-yards that forced a diving save out of Johnson and a clear from Friedrich in the 46th minute.
Moments later first half substitute Luis Gil played a one-two combination with Saborio before knuckling an effort at Johnson. The Fire goalkeeper saved the shot but spilled it, however, Paulo Junior whiffed on the follow-up attempt allowing Johnson to collect the ball in the 50th minute.
The Fire looked to recover in the 54th when a harmless ball out of the back from Arne Friedrich was misjudged by RSL defender Chris Schuler. Oduro ran onto the ball and drove towards goal before holding up to slide to Nyarko who fed Sebastian Grazzini in up the right. Grazzini came close to the end line before his quick cross was snagged by Reynish.
The next Fire attempt came in the 69th minute as Grazzini nodded down a high ball into the path of Pappa. Pappa strode up the left, cut inside the box and blasted a low left-footed drive across goal which Reynish blocked before RSL defender Chris Wingert cleared it off the line.
Frank Klopas looked to insert energy into the attack with the second half substitutions of Federico Puppo and Rafael Robayo. The plan nearly worked out in the 85th minute when Jalil Anibaba found Robayo with his cross from the right. The Colombian dove away from goal, looking to redirect the ball but his headed effort went just wide right of Reynish’s goal, leaving the match in a 0-0 deadlock.
The Men in Red return to Toyota Park as the side takes on Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. CT (CSN Chicago; ESPN Deportes 97.5 FM). Pregame action starts at 7:00 p.m. CT live on CSN. Chicago Fire Season Tickets are available by calling 1-888-MLS-FIRE (657-3473), via Ticketmaster or by heading to the club’s official website at Chicago-Fire.com.
- At halftime of the match the Chicago Fire inducted 13-year club veteran and current Real Salt Lake assistant coach C.J. Brown into the ‘Ring of Fire’. The club’s all-time leader in competitive appearances with 372, Brown joins Peter Nowak, Frank Klopas, Lubos Kubik, Peter Wilt, Bob Bradley and Chris Armas in the team’s Hall of Fame.
- Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson made two saves en route to his first clean sheet of the 2012 campaign. The shutout marks the 11th of his MLS career and takes his all-time regular season record to 15-14-16.
- Rookie defender Austin Berry made his Toyota Park debut, playing the full 90 minutes in his second straight start.
- Fire attacker Patrick Nyarko moved past defender Evan Whitfield into 14th place on the club’s all-time MLS appearance list with 104 games played since joining the club in 2008.
- Fire midfielder Marco Pappa tied DaMarcus Beasley at 15th on the club’s all-time MLS appearance list, playing 90 minutes in his 98th MLS Regular Season match.
Chicago Fire 0 – 0 Real Salt Lake
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Dan Gargan (Jalil Anibaba 51’), Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares; Logan Pause © (Rafael Robayo 72’), Pavel Pardo, Marco Pappa; Sebastian Grazzini; Patrick Nyarko (Federico Puppo 60’), Dominic Oduro
Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Hunter Jumper, Daniel Paladini, Orr Barouch
Real Salt Lake: Kyle Reynish; Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert; Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman ©, Jonny Steele; Javier Morales (Luis Gil 28’, Yordany Alvarez 90’); Paulo Junior (Emiliano Bonfigli 67’), Alvaro Saborio
Substitutes not used: Eduardo Fernandez, Nat Borchers, Terakazu Tanaka, Sebastian Velasquez
RSL – Kyle Beckerman (caution, Dissent) 71’
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Assistants: Eric Boria, Peter Balciunas
Fourth Official: Leszek Stalmach