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Eastern Conference Championship

On Fire: Finally, Chicago score first goal, never look back

Dominic Oduro and Patrick Nyarko

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – For the first time since April 21, the Chicago Fire scored the first goal of the game in a 3-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls on Sunday. And also for the first time all season, they won by multiple goals.

But most importantly for the Fire in their convincing win was that they won for the first time since May 23, breaking a three-game losing streak – which included a 3-2 US Open Cup loss to PDL side Michigan Bucks – and vaulting them into fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

“We challenged ourselves not to go down a goal,” said midfielder Patrick Nyarko, who had a goal and an assist. “Because of the bad run we had before the break, we couldn’t let it continue. We had no excuses today. We’re not tired, we came back from the break refreshed, and I think that’s what the guys showed out there.”

HIGHLIGHTS: CHI 3, NY 1

On Saturday against Columbus, the Fire will make a run at another first – their first winning streak of the season. 

“I think overall, from start to finish, it’s better,” head coach Frank Klopas said. “Now we have to continue to build. It’s on to the next game. The important thing is that we’re all focused on reaching our goals in the end. This is behind us. Fantastic. Very good victory. Now back to work.”

Best attendance drives Fire

With 18,526 fans in attendance at Toyota Park for Sunday afternoon’s game, the Fire notched their highest attendance total in seven home games this season.

The crowd was especially noticeable when Chris Rolfe came on in the 62nd minute, and when Dominic Oduro’s shot appeared to cross the line in the 64th minute but wasn’t called a goal. Boos rained down after the no-call, and Logan Pause thinks that helped fuel the Fire’s next two goals.

“The crowd today was fantastic,” Pause said. “They really picked us up, especially when we scored that early goal in the second half, and when Chris Rolfe came on."

Defense performs

Without veteran center back Arne Friedrich, who is recovering from a hamstring strain, the Fire have played with second-year pro Jalil Anibaba and rookie Austin Berry in the middle of their defense. With the young duo starting, the Fire allowed 10 goals in their five games before the international break.

The two did their job on Saturday, shutting down Red Bulls forward Kenny Cooper, who is tied for the league-lead in goals.

“His size, when he posts up is pretty hard to deal with,” Anibaba said. “Luckily, he didn’t get too many balls in to his feet, with me tight on his back. I knew I had cover, because we’ve been working on that all week.”

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