On Fire: Nyarko still dumbfounded by goal against United

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Seventeen minutes into the Chicago Fire’s match against D.C. United on Saturday, Patrick Nyarko hit a stunner of an opening goal. He pushed the ball back around his defender, took one dribble and cracked a shot from 20 yards out that beat outstretched goalkeeper Bill Hamid.

Even two days later, Nyarko can’t understand what happened on just his fourth goal of 2012, matching a career high.

To the Ghanaian winger, it wasn’t natural at all. In fact, he can’t remember scoring from outside the penalty area during his five years in MLS or his three years at Virginia Tech.

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“I’ve never been a shooter,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “I need to get to my spot in the box so I can side-foot it. The guys were making fun of me. [Dominic Oduro] said they were debating on the bench whether I side-footed it or blasted it with my laces. I’ve never scored such a goal.”

Nyarko has never been confident in his striking ability with the ball at the top of the box. He thinks he took a leap toward being a more consistent finisher on Saturday.

“I get frustrated when I get in those spots, because I think, ‘Oh, I’m not a great shooter, I’m going to set up a shooter,’ as opposed to me just trying it,” he said. “I think I took a huge step on Saturday toward knowing I can do it. I can try it from anywhere, and it gives the defense something else to think about.”

ROY race getting heated

First there was the Austin Berry cereal box promoting the defender for Rookie of the Year.

Then, there was the video of D.C. United rookie Nick DeLeon eating cereal from that box and saying he eats defenders for breakfast. Still after that, the Fire made a video in which Berry imitates DeLeon’s video, making fun of the midfielder.

If the two Louisville products weren’t friends, it would be easy to say that the race for the season award was getting heated.

“We talked after the last video for awhile,” Berry told MLSsoccer.com. “He was a little worried after the first video he made that I would take it personally. I was dying laughing. We’ve had a good joke about it, a good laugh. It’s good to see a good friend do well.”

Extra practice

Normally, Chicago head coach Frank Klopas gives his players two days off after games, but the Fire were back at it on Sunday after Saturday’s game.

The starters were mostly indoors, taking care of their legs to get ready for Wednesday’s do-or-die Knockout Round match against Houston (9 pm ET, ESPM2). On Monday, they went outside for a short time.

“If we didn’t have to play on Wednesday, I think I would’ve given them the day off,” Klopas told MLSsoccer.com. “Coming back in and starting the process where the guys are flushing their legs out and getting ready for the game on Wednesday was important.”