COLUMBUS, Ohio -- For the second time in four days, and 11th time in 14 matches this season, the Fire conceded the first goal in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Columbus.
This time, it was former Fire player Dominic Oduro dispossessing Austin Berry before goalkeeper Sean Johnson appeared to make contact with the Ghanaian in the box to earn an early penalty.
Argentine maestro Federico Higuain stepped up and converted the spot kick in the seventh minute giving the Fire a familiar feeling to start the match.
The team had a few nice chances to end the half but a furious start to the second half would be what sent the Fire back to Chicago with three points.
And the best part? Both players acquired for Oduro in February’s trade found the score sheet.
First it was Dilly Duka who absolutely roofed Joel Lindpere’s pinpoint cross from the left past Andy Gruenebaum at the back post in the 52nd minute, tallying his first goal since joining the Men in Red.
For Duka, the strike was one that he felt had been coming for a while.
“I needed my first goal in a Chicago jersey,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been getting good shots off in past games and I’ve just been a little unlucky. This one I got played a good ball and I just made sure I got behind it.”
“I saw it go in the back of the net and then I just looked at my players and was like, ‘we’re back in this’. I didn’t try to celebrate or anything, I didn’t care, I just wanted to get these points – to come here and get points is big.”
The equalizer sent the 175 Fire supporters in attendance at Crew Stadium into delirium but before they could even settle their celebration, it was Lindpere crossing from the left again to find Mike Magee at the back post.
Continuing to write his name into Fire lore, the striker chested home his sixth goal in as many matches to give the Fire a 2-1 lead in the 54th minute.
“It was off my shoulder. The defender had the beat on me and I was just trying to get in front of him. I hoped it would hit me somewhere and it hit me right here [points to shoulder].”
With the result, the Fire are now seven games unbeaten across all competition in an uptick of form that seems to have coincided with the acquisitions of Magee and center back Bakary Soumare in May.
READ: Post-Game Quote Sheet
Now at 5-7-3 (18 points), the Men in Red sit just four points outside the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference but if the team is to continue to crawl back into the MLS Cup postseason race, Magee admits they’ll need to avoid conceding the first goal so regularly.
“Our defense is playing great, but we’re giving away goals. It stinks, but it shows a lot about this team and sets the tone for the week to come – we know we can battle and we fight for each other, that’s the hardest thing in soccer. If we can just get our minds right to start games, we could be a hell of a team.”