3 POINTS: Jumper elation, a clean sheet and honors for Segares, Nyarko

Hunter Jumper the Man of the Moment

Friday's 1-0 victory over Sporting KC marked only the second start of second-year Fire defender Hunter Jumper’s MLS career. In his first, the University of Virginia product bagged an assist back in April’s 3-1 win over New York, on Friday he somewhat awkwardly headed home the game’s only goal and a dramatic celebration ensued.

“It was fantastic, such a center back goal,” said fellow center back and roommate Austin Berry post-game. “I know how it’s been the last couple years – it’s been hard not knowing when he’s going to get his opportunity but the kid has a fantastic attitude, he’s come in and worked every single day.”

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Last May, Berry scored his first career goal in a 2-1 victory over Chivas USA -- a match that head coach Frank Klopas was suspended for. Interestingly Jumper replicated the feat on Friday night with Klopas suspended again.

Fire assistant head coach on the night, Mike Matkovich praised the second-year defender’s performance.

“You know how it is as a reserve, you get your moment, his chance. We talked before the game about guys having opportunities -- we needed three big points and here it was. The guy played like a veteran tonight, I’m so happy and proud of him. He was focused, we kept things simple for him and I think on the night he scored a goal. He’s gotta be Man of the Match in my eyes.”

No worries Matko, Fire supporters texted in and overwhelmingly gave Jumper that honor, while post-game Berry spear-headed getting the team to sign a game-ball to commemorate his first professional goal.

First Clean Sheet Since…

Friday’s win marked the team’s first clean sheet in two-and-a-half months, with the last coming in a 2-0 victory over D.C. United on June 2.

Asked by MLSsoccer.com’s Anthony Zilis how long it had been since the last one, Matkovich cut into his question and quipped, “Its 11 [games], I counted. I know, trust me."

“I think we kept things tight. They hit a cross bar, we had a breakaway, you know how it is in this game – you take your chances, you don’t. For the most part we were pretty strong defensively. We kept things simple, early in the game we tried to play in their half, push the lines higher and I thought we stayed with the game plan.”

Milestone Days for Segares, Nyarko

Longtime Fire players Gonzalo Segares and Patrick Nyarko both hit career milestones for the club on the night.

Segares moved into an elite group of five other Fire players, earning his 200th MLS appearance since first joining the club in 2005. The Costa Rican now sits tied for fifth all-time with Jesse Marsch and trails just Chris Armas (214), Zach Thornton (215), Logan Pause (270) and C.J. Brown (296).

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“I’m very excited. I’ve been part of this organization for a long time and now in MLS it’s hard to stay in a team for so long. I’m very honored and humbled to be part of that group with Jesse, C.J., Chris, Logan and Zack. It’s a special group and I’m glad that I’m part of it.”   

Meanwhile Nyarko’s return to the field for the first time since suffering concussion symptoms in the side’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal defeat to D.C. united on August 7 marked the Ghanaian winger’s 150th career MLS appearance.

Nyarko was surprised when asked if he knew about the milestone post-game saying, “No. Wow. I feel blessed being able to stay healthy most of the time. To get 150 is a lot. The opportunity the club has given me is a blessing to pursue the entire length of my career here. I appreciate everything they’ve done for me and I hope to repay them.”