Chicago Fire fans can breathe easy.
Center back Arne Friedrich, who left Saturday’s 2-1 win against Sporting Kansas City with an aggravated hamstring in the 30th minute, didn’t seem to think the injury would keep him out for a significant stretch of time.
“It was pretty tight,” the German defender told MLSsoccer.com. “I guess it’s because I didn’t have a preseason, and I played three games in a week. A couple days before, I felt like the hamstring was a little tired. It’s not like a knife in my hamstring, it’s just a cramp.”
WATCH: Fire come back to beat SKC
Friedrich was replaced by Dan Gargan, who played on the right side, while Jalil Anibaba moved to central defense. Gargan was initially left out of the starting lineup due to a nagging foot injury.
The Fire would soon pay for that switch, however, as they would concede in the minute following the substitution. The goal was the first the Fire have given up from the run of play since rookie center back Austin Berry entered the starting XI against Chivas USA on May 4.
Chicago manager Frank Klopas thought the switch had a lot to do with Sporting Kansas City's opening goal.
“We started well in the game and we lost momentum once Arne came out of the game,” Klopas said. “He has leadership and control of the back line. I thought we lost momentum.”
The Fire didn’t register a shot on goal in the first half, although Klopas gave a one-word answer when asked whether he was concerned going into the break.
“No,” he said, shaking his head without elaborating.
Midfielder Sebastian Grazzini, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as confident.
“The second half we turned it around,” Grazzini said through a translator, “but the first half we were a disaster.”
Going for the Jugular
The Fire took back momentum in the second half, when forward Dominic Oduro earned a penalty kick that Grazzini converted in the 61st minute. Then a minute later, Sporting's Roger Espinoza received a red card.
“As soon as we went a man up, we knew we had to go for it,” Oduro said. “There was no way we were going to settle for a tie.”
The Fire were able to control the game from that point forward, and Oduro scored the game-winning goal in the 81st minute.
“The red card helped a little bit, but our ability to move the ball was key,” Klopas said. “They dropped back in their block of eight, with one on top. They were looking to hit us on the break, and we were very organized tactically. We were very smart and patient against a very good team.”