CHICAGO, Ill. (April 20, 2013) – The Chicago Fire (2-4-1, 7 points) defeated long-time Eastern Conference rivals Columbus Crew (2-2-3, 9 points) Saturday evening at Toyota Park. Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz scored his first goal in a Fire shirt, tallying the only goal of the match in the 83rd minute to give the Fire the 1-0 victory.
In the fourth minute, Crew defender Tyson Wahl sent in a free kick from 40 yards out to Chad Marshall, who headed it down for Agustin Viana who slid the ball in to goal but the goal was called offside.
After a scoreless first half, the Fire started the second with renewed vigor. In the 55th minute, Patrick Nyarko won the ball on the midfield line, spun his defender and headed towards goal. The fleet-footed Ghanaian found Chris Rolfe at the top of the 18 but the Kettering, Ohio native’s left-footed shot went just wide.
In the 74th minute, Estonian international Joel Lindpere whipped in a corner kick that was headed out by Marshall. The clearance fell to Nyarko, who drove in a cross to a rising Austin Berry but his snap header was saved from crossing the line at the last second by Gruenebaum.
The Fire’s offensive pressure would pay dividends in the 83rd minute. Defender Jalil Anibaba sent a long throw to Berry, who flicked the ball on for Larentowicz at the top of the penalty box. The Philadelphia, Penn. product nodded the ball past Gruenebaum to give the Fire the 1-0 lead.
Deep into stoppage time, the Crew won a free kick 40 yards form goal. Federico Higuain whipped in a free kick that found Chad Marshall, but his header went just wide of Sean Johnson’s goal.
The Men in Red next head to Montreal to take on the Impact at Stade Saputo on Saturday, April 27 at 3:00 p.m. CT (NBC Sports Network/107.9 La Ley). The Fire return to Toyota Park when they welcome the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, May 11 at 12:30 p.m. CT (NBC Sports Network/107.9 La Ley). Tickets for the match are available by calling 888-MLS-Fire or by visiting www.Chicago-Fire.com.
- The Fire are 23-12-13 all-time against the Columbus Crew and 14-5-7 in matches played at home.
- The Men in Red are 6-1-5 all-time against the Columbus Crew since the opening of Toyota Park in 2006.
- Jeff Larentowicz’s 83rd minute winner was his first in a Fire shirt.
- Chicago Fire head coach Frank Klopas started the seventh different lineup in as many games.
- Since Klopas took over as head coach in 2011, the Fire are 18-0-4 in matches when they score the first goal.
- After battling a hamstring injury Patrick Nyarko returned to the starting lineup for the first time since March 24 vs. Chivas USA.
- Goalkeeper Sean Johnson and the Fire defense notched their second shutout of the season.
Frank Klopas, Chicago Fire Head Coach
On beating long-time rival Columbus at home
"Definitely, I think we were looking forward to this match, obviously with the rivalry that has been created with games like this with teams in your conference. The proximity with their fans coming here and the support we get when we go there adds to it. It was a huge game for us. We had a good performance in the first half and an even better second half. We were the better team, in the second half we created enough chances and we finally scored a nice goal. We defended well as a group. I'm proud of the group and the effort. We enjoy it tonight, then we go back to work and stay focused like we have. The mentality and attitude of the players is fantastic. We enjoy it tonight but it's a long season and things change fast."
On the clean sheet put up by the team's defense
"It was important. You look at the season so far and we have given up early goals, or even the first goal. it's difficult. Even though we have showed that we can come back, especially last year, it gets difficult at times. We talked about the simple things. We didn't say you have to score three goals. Make sure that we defend well. One of the key factors was Higuain in transition, making it really tight and difficult for him to play. With Oduro's pace, with our backline, when to drop off and when to play high and that was the key. He had a couple chances that is going to happen in the game. Sean had to make the saves that he did. We defended well overall. It was good to get the goal late in the game to pull the win. We had a very good start to the second half. We created chances but it was also important to defend well. It was key not to push forward without discipline ."
On outside backs Gonzalo Segares and Wells Thompson creating chances
"We wanted width. With Patrick we wanted to isolate him because of his pace. Anytime we have the ball if we can play to him quick or switch the point of attack where he can get opportunities 1v1. I thought he was fantastic tonight, he created a lot chances. We got in good spots in the final third basically through him in his running off the ball and ability to beat players. On the other side Joel likes to play a bit more tucked in. It is very important with Sega to push up high and provide width for us. If he doesn't we are narrow as a team and it is difficult to play through the middle because they do a good job staying compact and organized. With him on one side and Wells it's important to push forward. When you have two holding midfielders and two guys that are really going to defend, whether it's Jeff and Logan, you can take more risks. We have to be disciplined because they are a very good team. Anytime we lost the ball we needed to put immediate pressure on them, obviously put pressure on Higuain."
On the play of MacDonald
"His fitness level is improving. I thought he was aggressive and made good runs. You saw his pace and acceleration when he had 1-on-1 and his ability to separate himself from defenders. We knew with their backline with Marshall and Glauber was 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4, we needed to keep the ball on the ground make sure we run the channels and now it turns into a foot race. Him and Rolfe's ability to combine with the midfielders were things we worked on. It was great off a set piece, Austin made a great play, Jeff made a hard run in the box and we scored. I felt he had a good game regardless if he scored or not, he helped the team.
On Daniel Paladini starting the game on the bench
"I thought Joel played well, he worked hard. I wanted to get Patrick in there because of his pace and his ability to stretch the field with us. Danny has played well. I think he is a guy that when he gets it he helps us with possession. He comes inside more. But I wanted that match up with Patrick on one side. Joel has played well and in Houston. You have to make some decisions, they are not easy. I felt the guys we went with and came in played very well. Throughout the season and the year you got to rely on the team. You can see we have gone through some difficult times. Everybody has been able to step up. Regardless of our record, the attitude and work we put in leaves us with no regrets. Everyone is putting everything think into it and when you have a good mentality you feel things will turn."
Jeff Larentowicz, Chicago Fire Midfielder
On his goal
“It was a long throw, late. I think that Jalil [Anibaba] was putting the ball in the right spot all night and Austin [Berry] was able to get his head on a lot of them. I was in too early on a couple of them and the defenders were able to clear but that one I waited a split second and came in from behind the defender.”
On getting more involved offensively in this match
“I think when the ball was going forward I was trying to get into the box as much as possible. Between Logan and I - we offset each other, where one is up, the other is back. I think I was able to get forward more a little bit tonight.”
On getting his goal in front of Section 8
“It was great. I’m sure there are a lot of people there that I still have to win over and hopefully that’s a good addition to the games I’ve played so far.”
On breaking up the Columbus Crew’s attack
“We were focusing on their offensive engine and making sure they didn’t play into it. Higuain is one of them. I thought we did well to make sure that they weren’t able to get it into him and start their attack. I also think we limited Oduro’s pace in behind. The defenders had a great night, Thompson was fantastic. I think it’s something to build on for sure.”
Patrick Nyarko, Chicago Fire Midfielder
On the match
“It’s a huge win for us, second win at home. I think we had a different purpose today. We needed the win and we played like it. We played with [a little] desperation; we played like we needed the points. It was one of those games that you’re thinking at one point, here we go again, it’s not going to happen again today. But the guys persevered, and kept pushing. It was easily one of the best games that we have played for a little while. We kept the petal to the metal. The [Crew] ‘keeper played unbelievably, and he made great saves. Kudos to the guys – we did not let up. We did not hang our head low, and we kept fighting, and we kept creating. One went in, so that’s all we needed for today. It’s a good effort from the guys.”
On the importance of this win
“After the Houston [loss], we were all disappointed not because we lost the game but because we felt like we did not deserve to lose points out there. We played great, and I kept telling the guys that if we play like this we aren’t going to lose a lot of games. I feel like in the last week of training, we were very optimistic and enthusiastic, and not worried about our loss to Houston. We know we played well enough to earn points there, but it just didn’t happen. That’s soccer. If we put in the same effort today, more than likely we are going to get the win. I think we came out firing in both halves, we sustained the pressure and finally they cracked.”
On if he thinks things are coming together offensively
“Oh yea, definitely. Game after game we get more fit, we get more confident. We have guys that can make a difference. Our season started a little low-it happens over the course of an MLS season, and we are glad it has happened early on, rather than later on. We are starting to figure things out and we know what it takes to win. Our concentration that we have today, if we have that again - we are not going to lose a lot of games. In Houston we just lost our concentration for a second and they punished us. I think we believe if we keep a clean sheet, and we are not playing from behind, we have a great chance to winning our games.”
Logan Pause, Chicago Fire Captain and Midfielder
On today’s strategy
“I think tactically we knew that Higuain’s their engine. Everything goes through him. He was a big priority for us tonight. Between the guys in the back and the midfield, they did a good job at limiting his touches where he is dangerous.”
On improving the playing dynamic between Larentowicz and him
“I think that each and every minute Jeff and I play longer, we’re going to get more familiar with each other. But tonight I think was more of an overall team effort and obviously in the second half we created a lot more chances than in the first half and we were kind of all over them. My work, and Jeff’s work, were we a little bit sharper in there, yea probably, but I think it was a collected team effort.”
On his interaction with MacDonald during his substitution
“At that time we were pushing, and trying to win the game. I wanted to speed up, because every second counts. I understand the frustrations with being subbed off. No doubt; it’s happened to me countless times. It will continue to happen. That’s just because he wants to help the team. It’s nothing more than that. It’s nothing more than us wanting to win and it was left at that. We’ve already talked about that. We laughed about it.”
On whether he felt Columbus eased up in the second half
“You’ll have to ask them in terms of slowing things down. I definitely felt like we were on top of them more in the second half. The possession we had in the second half was in their half, as opposed to in our half. I think that the guys from top to bottom made a fantastic effort to get involved. One of the things we talked about at halftime was being better in the final quarter and making things happen. You have to get some credit to their goalkeeper, he was fantastic tonight. But all around, great team effort tonight.”
Chicago Fire 1 – 0 Columbus Crew
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson, Wells Thompson, Jalil Anibaba, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares; Patrick Nyarko (Daniel Paladini 87’), Logan Pause ©, Jeff Larentowicz, Joel Lindpere (Dilly Duka 83’); Chris Rolfe, Sherjill MacDonald (Maicon Santos 78’)
Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Hunter Jumper, Michael Videira, Alex
Columbus Crew: Andy Gruenebaum; Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Glauber, Tyson Wahl; Ben Speas (Agustin Viana 65’), Danny O’Rourke (Kevan George 82’), Agustin Viana, Eddie Gaven; Dominic Oduro (Ethan Finlay 76’), Federico Higuain
Substitutes not used: Matt Lampson, Chad Barson, Kevan George, Matias Sanchez, Ryan Finley
CHI – Jeff Larentowicz (Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba) 83’
CHI – Gonzalo Segares (caution) 6’
CHI – Wells Thompson (caution) 13’
CLB – Glauber (caution) 85’
CHI – Daniel Paladini (caution) 87’
Referee: Chris Penso
Assistants: Brian Poeschel, Jason Cullum
Fourth Official: Daniel Radford
Fourth Official: Daniel Radford