BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Few picked a battered and bruised Fire team to take anything from Sunday’s encounter with a surging LA Galaxy side.
However, the home team did well to dominate the first half, take advantage of a penalty kick call that may have occurred outside of the box, only to see Landon Donovan capitalize on a mistake at the back to help the favored Galaxy steal a point in a 1-1 draw.
The misplay by the Fire rookie was a forgettable piece of an otherwise decent first team debut but Ritter would shift responsibility post-game.
“It felt great to get out there and get my first appearances,” he said. “The end of the game didn’t go the way we wanted it to and I feel a bit at fault for the one goal. It’s definitely a learning experience and there are plenty of more games this season to make it up.”
With both central midfielders Logan Pause and Alex out due to injury, the popular choice in midfield prior to the match would have been veteran Matt Watson, but Fire head coach Frank Yallop explained his decision to start Ritter in such a difficult first match.
“I think Chris has done well in his games he’s had in the reserves. He trains well, just looking at the personnel with the few bumps and scrapes we do have, I felt that our forward play has been good. I felt today other than the chance they scored on, we kept them pretty quiet – a very good team that’s good at going forward.”
Yallop explained further the tactical thought behind Ritter’s inclusion next to Jeff Larentowicz in midfield.
“I think Chris next to Jeff, it really wasn’t a defensive move, it was really more making that box where Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane love to operate in. I think Chris, Jeff, Baky [Soumare] and Jhon [Kennedy Hurtado] made it really difficult to get any space and that was the reason I played Chris. He was great. It loosened Jeff up a little bit to get on the ball and I think we had some good spells on possession and good, solid attacks.
Ritter’s inclusion in the starting 11 along with Harry Shipp marked the first time in club history two Homegrown players started a match together.
“It’s exciting,” Ritter said. “Harry’s done a great job this year and I’m kind of just trying to follow in his footsteps. It’s fun to be out there with a guy I know pretty well off the field. It was definitely a special moment.”