Fire's Armas caps milestone with a goal

Salt Lake City hasn't been a great place for Major League Soccer teams to visit thus far, but the Chicago Fire made sure they would enjoy their first and only trip this year, coming away with a 3-0 victory Saturday night on the newly-laid grass at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The Fire started the scoring early as captain Chris Armas hit a blistering shot to lower left side netting in the fifth minute. The goal came after Lubos Reiter headed down a high cross to Nate Jaqua, but his effort was blocked by RSL defender Matt Behncke. The clearance fell to Armas at the top of the box, who finished the chance well.

"I was in the right spot at the right time, that's it," said Armas. "In reality if you look at the goal, Lubos Reiter made a big play in the corner, and then, I think, it was Nate ewho made another play to keep it alive and it came out. I was just sitting up there waiting to clean up what ever came out, and I just found a good spot."

The first goal on the season for Armas also came on the same night as another milestone for the veteran Fire midfielder, his 200th MLS game. He didn't have much to say about his feat, keeping the big picture in mind.

"It's a nice milestone, 200th game in MLS, I'm proud," said Armas. "Let's go for another 200."

The win was a total team effort on both ends of the pitch. On a freekick in the 27th minute Zach Thornton saved a vicious Clint Mathis shot to the far post. With the large Chicago wall, Thornton did well to make the difficult save.

"My job is to take care of my portion of the goal and let the wall take care of their portion," said Thornton. "I was able to see it and make the save."

The scoring continued for the Fire in the second half. As has been the case for much of the year, the goals came from players in their first year with the club.

In the 52nd minute Samuel Caballero got his head on the end of an Armas cross. Caballero beat D.J. Countess by redirecting the cross into the the far netting for his first goal in MLS.

First-year player Chad Barrett came into the game as a second-half sub, replacing the injured Reiter. Barrett made the most of his appearance in the 84th minute, spinning off of two RSL defenders and beating Countess at the far post for his first professional goal.

Fire coach Dave Sarachan was pleased with his team's performance on both ends, and hopes to continue on the positive results.

"The mindset coming in, it was a game that we wanted to build from the previous week and bring that energy tonight," said Sarachan. "I thought we did that over the course of 90 minutes and I thought the concentration level and the organization of the team was very good throughout the 90 minutes."

Even on a special night with his personal milestone, Armas knows the most important part of the night is the result as a team.

"(The win) is extra special tonight it comes on the 200th game," said Armas. "When you go on the road and win, it's impressive. When you go and win 3-0 you can feel very good about it."

Scott McAllister is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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