BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – After settling a pass from Patrick Nyarko just outside the penalty area, Chris Rolfe only needed a half-step to loop a shot over Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum and give the Fire a 2-1 lead over the Columbus Crew.
Chicago manager Frank Klopas bemoaned the fact that the Fire didn’t pad that lead, but the Fire gave Rolfe two chances, and that was all they needed in topping their Eastern Conference rival 2-1 on Saturday night.
“As the season draws to a close and you get to the playoffs, we’re not going to have like, eight, nine, 10 chances a game like we’ve been creating in the last several games,” Rolfe said. “Tonight was an eye-opener that it’s going to be tougher toward the end of the season and in the playoffs. You don’t get as many chances, so you have to be good with the finishes.”
Throughout their last eight games, of which they’ve won seven, the Fire have shown the ability to win when the run of play or statistics don’t point in their favor.
In their win over Houston two weeks ago, the Fire held just 32 percent of possession, withstood a bevy of Dynamo chances late in the game and eventually secured a 3-1 win. In a 3-1 victory over Montreal, the Impact took an early lead, outshot Chicago, and out-possessed the Fire handily.
In Saturday’s game, the Fire were out-possessed by 24 percent and out-shot by nine but still managed to battle back from a one-goal deficit to win for the fourth time in eight games in a come-from-behind effort.
“We never panicked, we kept playing the same way,” Klopas said. “Obviously we scored two very nice goals. We had a few opportunities in the second half to put the game away. It’s a little bit difficult because there’s a tendency when you’re up to drop a little bit off.”
The Fire have the ability to overcome adversity – that much is clear. Avoiding that adversity altogether is their final hurdle.
“We seem to start out decent in a game then go down a goal and respond to that,” Rolfe said. "That’s something that we have to fix, but it’s still a good thing that we can come back from that.”