The Chicago Fire (5-4-3, 18 points) gave a hard fought performance in front of 600 traveling supporters, but Austin Berry’s 72nd minute goal was not enough to overcome goals from Eddie Gaven and Emilio Renteria giving the Columbus Crew (5-4-3, 18 points) a 2-1 victory at Crew Stadium Saturday night. It was the first time that the Fire had lost to an Eastern Conference opponent since May 21, 2011, a 2-1 loss at Philadelphia.
The Crew took an early lead as defender Shaun Francis squared a ball to Gaven at the top of the 18-yard box. Gaven took two touches before unleashing a low driven shot that beat Sean Johnson to the near post in the 9th minute.
The Fire nearly equalized in the 41st minute as Patrick Nyarko intercepted a Francis pass and took it in on goal. With only Crew ‘keeper Andy Gruenebaum to beat the crafty Ghanaian pushed his shot on goal just wide left of frame.
Moments later, Emilio Renteria doubled the lead for the home side just before halftime. Francis once against started the buildup on the left side of the field, feeding Gaven up the flank. Gaven slotted a ball to Renteria with his back to goal where the sizable Venezuelan shucked Fire defender Austin Berry before blasting a shot past Johnson at the far post to give the Crew a 2-0 lead on 43 minutes.
Frank Klopas made two changes to infuse the Fire offense to start the second half bringing Dominic Oduro and Orr Barouch on for Marco Pappa and Federico Puppo, respectively. The change almost played immediate dividends as Rafael Robayo played Oduro into space in the Crew box. The Fire forward measured his shot on goal but Gruenebaum came off his line to parry Oduro’s shot in the 46th minute.
The Fire pulled one back in the 71st minute when Daniel Paladini collected a Crew clearance on the left side before whipping in a cross that Berry elevated to meet and head the ball past Gruenebaum to cut the Crew’s lead in half.
The Men in Red, playing in their third match in seven days, continued to push the game in search of the tying goal. In the 85th minute Fire defender Dan Gargan sent in a driven cross that Orr Barouch headed wide right of goal. The pressure lasted well into added time, but the Crew held on as the Fire fell to their Eastern Conference rivals.
- For the second consecutive season the club covered the cost of travel for over 600 supporters to board 10 buses and make the seven hour journey to invade Crew Stadium.
- The Fire – Crew match aired live on NBC5 Chicago marking the first time in club history that the Fire appeared on a major local network.
- The Fire’s last loss to an Eastern Conference opponent came on May 21, 2011 when the Men in Red lost to the Philadelphia Union 2-1.
- Playing in their third match in seven days, Fire head coach Frank Klopas rested midfielder Sebastian Grazzini.
- Fire rookie Austin Berry tallied his second career goal.
- The Men in Red outshot the Crew 6-2 in the second half.
- Daniel Paladini recorded his second career assist.
Chicago Fire 1 – 2 Columbus Crew
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Dan Gargan, Jalil Anibaba, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares; Logan Pause © (Daniel Paladini, 60’), Pavel Pardo; Patrick Nyarko, Rafael Robayo, Marco Pappa (Dominic Oduro, 46’); Federico Puppo (Orr Barouch, 46’)
Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Hunter Jumper, Corben Bone, Michael Videira
Columbus Crew: Andy Gruenebaum; Sebastian Miranda, Carlos Mendes (Eric Gehrig, 54’), Josh Williams, Shaun Francis (Nemanja Vukovic, 50’); Dilly Duka (Chris Birchall, 66’), Kevan George, Tony Tchani, Bernardo Anor; Eddie Gaven ©, Emilio Renteria
Substitutes not used: Matt Lampson, Cole Grossman, Justin Meram, Olman Vargas
CLB – Eddie Gaven (Shaun Francis) 9’
CLB – Emilio Renteria (Eddie Gaven, Shaun Francis) 43’
CHI – Austin Berry (Daniel Paladini) 72’
CLB – Bernardo Anor (caution) 67’
Referee: Allen Chapman
Assistants: Greg Barkey, Jeff Muschik
Fourth Official: Jose Carlos Rivero