On Fire: At long last, a happy night in Chicago
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — It took them over two months to do it, but the Chicago Fire finally got their third win of the season Sunday night, defeating Toronto FC 2-0 at Toyota Park.
Former Toronto defender Dan Gargan was one of the heroes for the Fire, scoring a 69th-minute goal to seal the game and snap Chicago’s 10-game league winless streak.
Here are three other storylines from the match:
Chicago reacts to ending skid
On Sunday night, for the first time in what seems like an eternity, Fire players were actually happy after a match. A little less than five months since their last MLS home win, Chicago players responded to reporters’ questions with smiles on their faces.
“It feels great,” Fire captain Logan Pause told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s been a long time since we’ve won a game. I’m just proud and really happy for the guys that worked so incredibly hard over the whole season to try and chip away. We know that we have an uphill battle. It feels good, but we also know we’ve got our work cut out in the next little bit. But I feel that it’s just a reflection of the perseverance and the commitment from the group.”
Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas echoed Pause’s sentiments.
“First of all, it’s just great to get the win,” Klopas said. “I felt that the team has played well and sometimes things just don’t go your way. I felt in a game like today we looked a little bit tired; it probably wasn’t one of our better performances when you come down to it, we did create opportunities, but maybe some things kind of went our way a little bit. They hit the post and it didn’t go in whereas before things didn’t go our way. … It’s just a good feeling.”
Oduro on the mark
Three days after his dreadful showing in front of goal in the 1-1 draw against D.C. United, forward Dominic Oduro got back on the scoresheet Sunday, netting the Fire’s opening goal in the 16th minute.
The Ghanaian striker got on the end of defender Gonzalo Segares’ cross at the left post, neatly flicking the ball inside the far bar for his eighth tally of the season.
The pretty goal should boost Oduro’s confidence, which took a bit of a hit after he missed an absolute sitter on Thursday night.
“The thing with forwards, you have to have the mentality and confidence,” Klopas said. “Sometimes Dominic tries too hard. But I think he has the right mentality. When you miss good chances, you have to be ready to capitalize on the next ones. I think he has that confidence in himself. He opens up a lot of space for our midfielders. He’s been a great addition for us.”
Gibbs returns to the lineup
Center back Cory Gibbs returned to the lineup Sunday for the first time since straining his left groin in the Fire’s 1-1 draw against the Philadelphia Union on Aug. 3.
Gibbs, who missed all but six minutes of the Fire’s previous four matches with the injury, played the full 90 against Toronto, partnering with rookie defender Jalil Anibaba in the middle of Chicago’s back four.
“It felt good [to be back],” Gibbs said. “Emotionally, it felt great. I felt I could’ve done a bit more in terms of the performance, I’m not just going to rely on the shutout or the win, but I’m going to build myself up to the highest potential.”
Gibbs said he enjoyed playing alongside Anibaba, with whom he’s developed a close relationship this season.
“We’ve had a good tandem I think all season, and we’ve had a good matchup of center backs," he said. "We’ve been strong in that core with Josip [Mikulic], [Yamith] Cuesta, myself and Jalil now stepping in. In terms of our pairing together, our understanding was there.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.