Fire smoke RSL, win second straight
The Chicago Fire became the first team in Major League Soccer to leave Rice-Eccles Stadium with the full three points, hitting for their highest offensive output of the season in knocking off Real Salt Lake 3-0 on Saturday night.
Chris Armas sent the Fire on their way with a goal in the fifth minute in a landmark match for the veteran midfielder, while Samuel Caballero and rookie Chad Barrett scored after the break to give the Fire a second consecutive victory.
Playing in his 200th MLS match, Armas got the Fire off to a dream start. A high free kick landed to Nate Jaqua, whose attempt was blocked by RSL defender Matt Behncke in the six-yard box. The clearance fell to Armas at the top of the box, and he hammered home a low shot into the left side of the net.
Despite the bright start, there was a downer after just 10 minutes when Andy Herron hobbled off the pitch suffering from a strained right hamstring. Rookie Chris Rolfe came in for Herron.
Fire 'keeper Zach Thornton came up big in the 27th minute. Clint Mathis unleashed a vicious free kick from about 20 yards, out to Thorton's right beyond the corner of the penalty area. Mathis' shot cleared the wall and required a spectacular save from the fully extended Thornton.
The Fire again came close in the 41st minute as Thiago took the ball and beat several defenders as he ran into the area and across the face of goal. But the beautiful run went unrewarded as D.J. Countess got in front of the ball to make the save on his close-range effort.
The Fire started the second half much like they started the first, with a goal. After a free kick was won on the right side, Armas whipped in a cross that found the head of Samuel Caballero in the 52nd minute. The Honduras international beat D.J. Countess with a powerful header for his first MLS goal and Chicago's second on the night.
Four minutes later, Slovenian international Lubos Reiter also went down with an injury, being replaced by Barrett.
The rookie finished off the scoreline in the final minute of normal time, collecting a pass from Thiago before spinning off two RSL defenders to set himself up for his first goal in MLS. Barrett blasted his shot low shot inside the far side netting, cleaning beating Countess.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Chris Armas (Chicago Fire)
Scott McAllister is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Chicago Fire (5-4-1) vs. Real Salt Lake (3-5-2)
May 28, 2005 -- Rice-Eccles Stadium
CHI -- Chris Armas 1 (unassisted) 5
CHI -- Samuel Caballero 1 (Chris Armas 1) 53
CHI -- Chad Barrett 1 (unassisted) 84
Chicago Fire -- Zach Thornton, Logan Pause, Gonzalo Segares, Samuel Caballero, Jim Curtin, Ivan Guerrero, Nate Jaqua, Chris Armas, Thiago, Andy Herron (Chris Rolfe 11) (Jesse Marsch 83), Lubos Reiter (Chad Barrett 56).
Substitutes Not Used: Kelly Gray, David Mahoney.
TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Chris Rolfe 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 8 (Chad Barrett 3); FOULS: 16 (Thiago 5); OFFSIDES: 4 (Chad Barrett 2); CORNER KICKS: 11 (Thiago 6); SAVES: 2 (Zach Thornton 2)
Real Salt Lake -- D.J. Countess, Rusty Pierce, Matt Behncke, Brian Dunseth, Marlon Rojas (Seth Trembly 62), Chris Brown (Dante Washington 77), Brian Kamler, Clint Mathis, Andy Williams, Leslie Fitzpatrick (Dipsy Selolwane 63), Jason Kreis.
Substitutes Not Used: Nikolas Besagno, Jordan Cila, Kenny Cutler, Cameron Knowles, Jay Nolly, Leighton O'Brien.
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Clint Mathis 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Clint Mathis 1, Rusty Pierce 1); FOULS: 11 (Matt Behncke 2, Marlon Rojas 2); OFFSIDES: 1 (Jason Kreis 1); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Andy Williams 6); SAVES: 5 (D.J. Countess 5)
RSL -- Rusty Pierce (caution; Pushing, Holding) 62
Referee: Richard Heron
Referee's Assistants: -Jose Corro; David Bragg
4th Official: Gunther Haidenthaller
Time of Game: 1:52
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.