Klopas: Fire's stirring win over Chivas "a great victory"

Chicago Fire action shot - September 17, 2011

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BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chicago Fire forward Dominic Oduro collapsed to the ground after the final whistle of Saturday’s match against Chivas USA.

His reaction encapsulated the emotions of the entire Fire squad after his goal with five minutes remaining gave the home team a dramatic 3-2 victory, all while playing the second half a man down.

“Holy cow,” Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas said after the match. “Dom [Oduro] scored to give us the victory which was exciting for the fans, not for the coaches on the bench, but a great victory for sure.” 

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The win keeps the Fire alive in the playoff race, moving them six points behind Portland for final wild card spot with six games remaining.

“We know at this stage in the season we have to win games to even give us a chance at making the playoffs,” midfielder Logan Pause said. “We knew that going into it and I thought we had a great start.” 

The Fire were up 2-0 before 30 minutes had gone by, but a red card to defender Cory Gibbs and some shoddy defending allowed Chivas USA to equalize in the second half. Oduro’s late heroics saved the day with fellow Ghanaian Patrick Nyarko squaring a ball which only needed to be tapped in at the far post.

“It was a great goal,” Oduro said. “I told Patrick today that ‘if we have a breakaway and you don’t pass me the ball, I’ll hit you’ and I think he remembered that. But it was a great ball and just a tap-in goal.”

“It’s amazing, it’s a great feeling,” said Gibbs, who left his team down a man after a hard tackle in the 37th minute. “Seeing Oduro score that goal, it almost pulled me out of a grave.”

The game-winner was Oduro’s 10th league strike of the season, making him the first Fire player to record a double-digit goal tally since Damani Ralph scored 11 in 2004.

“I can’t take credit for that,” Oduro said of reaching 10 goals. “I think all of my goals have been coming from hard work from my teammates. They made it possible for me and I just want to say thanks to them and thank you to all the fans for making this happen.”

The triumph over Chivas USA was one of those stirring victories against the odds which the Fire hope will carry over to their remaining matches with an outside shot at the postseason still on the line.

“I think now is the time for the team to get strong,” goalkeeper Sean Johnson said. “We have six games left and we need all six, that’s our attitude … We can’t afford anymore ties or loses and I think everybody understands that and is ready to get after these final six games. “

Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com.  Email him at sam.h.stejskal@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.