The Chicago Fire remained unbeaten on the young season, claiming a 2-1 victory against the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday evening at Toyota Park.
Goals by Chad Barrett, in the first half, and a Chris Rolfe penalty kick in the second gave the Fire the victory. New Wizards signing Carlos Marinelli converted a penalty kick in the last minute to provide the final scoreline.
The first real clear chance came after just four minutes, when Barrett seemed to have slipped through the Wizards' defense and in on Kansas City goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. Nick Garcia pulled down Barrett just inches in front of the area, giving the Fire a free kick in a very dangerous area.
From the set piece, Diego Gutierrez received a quick touch before letting fire with a powerful drive straight at goal, but Hartman was able to turn it aside. The danger wasn't cleared and the Fire had another chance when the rebound was sent goalward by Gonzalo Segares, but his shot, although struck well, sailed well over the bar.
From the early opportunities the game settled down as neither team threatened. Whenever the Wizards broke into the Chicago end, the Fire defense was well organized and snuffed out any threat.
In the 20th minute, the Fire once again had a good chance at goal. Ivan Guerrero received the ball on the right and raced down the flank before putting in a good cross that appeared to be dangerous, but no Chicago player could get onto the end of it before it settled safely in Hartman's hands.
The Fire seemed as if they couldn't miss in the 34th minute, yet still couldn't open the scoring. A cross from the right sailed into the area and resulted in three shots. Twice Hartman stopped Barrett from point-blank range, then Barrett managed to put the third over the crossbar.
But a minute later the home team finally broke through after a good combination. Chris Armas received a pass from Guerrero and dribbled forward. He sent a pass to Rolfe, who laid off a quick ball to Barrett. The young striker controlled the ball, slipped between defenders and hit a perfectly-placed shot past Hartman into the back of the net.
After the break, Marinelli made his league debut for the Wizards, coming in for Yura Movsisyan.
Although neither team had real control of the game, the visitors were closer to pulling level than were the Fire of extending their lead. In the 51st minute Davy Arnaud received a centering pass and headed at goal from straight on. Pickens' reaction saved a sure goal, and he was fortunate to hold on to the ball as well to eliminate any rebound.
The entrance of substitute Calen Carr onto the field gave the Fire a burst of speed and immediately caused threats. In the 64th minute, a bad bounce left Guerrero with the ball and he fired at goal, but it slipped just wide of Hartman's left-hand post.
In the 72nd minute, a charge down the right by Guerrero won a penalty after he was pulled down in the area by Garcia. The resulting spot kick was slotted on the ground just inside Hartman's left-hand post to double the Fire lead.
Down by the two goals, the Wizards started to throw more players forward. Eddie Johnson looked to have a good chance when he fired on the half-turn in the 81st minute, only to send it over the bar without troubling Perkins.
As in reply to that effort, Barrett received the ball in the midfield in the 84th minute and after running nearly to the edge of the area, let fly with a fierce shot, but Hartman claimed the strike with both hands.
In the 88th minute, the Wizards finally had their breakthrough as Gutierrez hooked down Marinell in the area and the referee again pointed to the spot. Marinelli cleanly converted the penalty for his first MLS goal, sending Perkins the other way as he put his shot inside the left-hand post.
But the Wizards could get no closer as they failed to build on their season-opening victory, while the Fire won for the second time in 2007, both wins coming at their Toyota Park home.
Raquel Ortiz is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.