On Fire: Chicago settle for draw, but positives aplenty
The Chicago Fire failed to start their first winning streak of the season Saturday, tying the New England Revolution 1-1 at Gillette Stadium six days after they snapped an 11-game winless run with a 1-0 victory at Columbus.
This week’s On Fire takes a closer look at the 1-1 tie and looks ahead to the Fire’s next match, a home game against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday.
The Fire exposed New England with their counterattack Saturday, using the tremendous speed of wingers Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro to torch the Revs on the break.
Chicago’s best counter came on their 32nd-minute goal. Nyarko ran down a clearance just shy of midfield, shrugging off Revs midfielder Sainey Nyassi before hitting Oduro in stride on the right wing. Oduro collected Nyarko’s switch and took off for goal, running at defender Darrius Barnes before slotting a 12-yard shot inside the far post with the inside of his right foot.
“Patrick saw me make a run, I got a little one-on-one and I saw [Reis] move to the right, and I shot to the left and it went in,” Oduro told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “Great pass, great counter break and great goal.”
Nyarko and Oduro’s textbook break should be something the Fire try to repeat often. There’s no defense in the league that can keep up with the Ghanaian wingers, and interim head coach Frank Klopas would be wise to unleash them as often as he can.
Johnson on the spot
New England keeper Matt Reis may have had more saves, but Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson played very well on Saturday. The second-year 'keeper, who was benched for six games in April and May, looked like the national team prospect many think he is, keeping his team in the game with five saves against the Revs.
Johnson’s best stop came in the 27th minute. Revs defender Kevin Alston headed a ball from the top of the box back to forward Rajko Lekic, who smashed a left-footed volley with his first touch toward the far post. Lekic’s shot looked ticketed for the back of the net, but Johnson came up huge, extending every inch of his 6-foot-3 frame to parry the ball wide.
“I come out every night with the mindset that I’m going to do the best I can to help our team get a result,” Johnson said. “Luckily I was able to make a couple saves in the first half to keep us in it.”
Salt Lake up next
The Fire continue their busy June on Wednesday, when Western Conference power Real Salt Lake roll into Toyota Park for a midweek match.
The match will be the fifth of the month for Chicago, who might run out a slightly different starting lineup against Real Salt Lake than they did on Saturday. Klopas showed he wasn’t afraid to rest players during a busy stretch on June 12 against Columbus, when he made four changes to the side that tied Sporting Kansas City 0-0 on June 9.