Brian McBride is still an offensive weapon. And so is Josh Wolff. Each scored two goals -- McBride twice in the opening 20 minutes, Wolff twice in the final 12 minutes -- and the Chicago Fire and Kansas City Wizards battled to a thrilling 2-2 tie Saturday at Toyota Park.
McBride scored his third and fourth goals of the season to send the Fire on their way toward what seemed like a dominating victory. But Wolff led a spirited Wizards comeback with his first two goals of the season as the Wizards got a rare point in Chicago.
In the previous 16 games against the Fire in Chicago, the Wizards had a record of 2-13-1.
Chicago began pushing forward from the first whistle. Cuauhtemoc Blanco, making his first start of the season, and Marco Pappa attempted to make something happen in the fourth minute, only to have each opportunity blocked. Two minutes later, McBride attempted to shoot, but was tripped in the box. And then Patrick Nyarko failed to get a weak shot past K.C.'s defensive line.
But in the 13th minute, a foul on Blanco proved fatal for the Wizards. After getting a return pass from Gonzalo Segares, the Mexican veteran bent the ball into the area. Kansas City goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and defender Jimmy Conrad both jumped up for the ball, but neither Wizards player came up with the ball.
Fire defender Wilman Conde flicked the loose ball square to McBride, who hammered a shot just inside the right post and into the net for a 1-0 Fire lead.
Chicago continued the offensive push. And in the 20th minute, they made it 2-0. From the right flank, Blanco sent a freekick into the box. McBride jumped up and headed it back across goal, past a diving Hartman and inside the right post.
Chicago dominated the first half of play, allowing the Wizards just one shot, when Jack Jewsbury sent the ball high in the 43rd minute.
After the break, it was still all Chicago. Blanco blasted a shot high in the 49th minute. John Thorrington drilled a shot straight at Hartman in the 60th minute.
And then Kansas City had their best chance of the night. Herculez Gomez blasted the ball toward goal, but Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch grabbed it for the first save of the night.
A couple of Kansas City yellow cards must have fueled the Fire however. Chicago took the ball downfield and kept Hartman busy for an intense few minutes. It started with a Pappa cross in the 67th minute, which Hartman blocked for a corner kick.
Conde headed a ball wide left in the 70th minute from a corner kick, then the Colombian drilled a crossfield ball that found Blanco in the right side of the area. He rocketed a full volley at the near post that Hartman remarkably knocked wide.
Two minutes later, set up by a quick pass from Blanco in the area, Nyarko drilled another one at Hartman, who again made a stunning reaction save.
Their goalkeeper's heroics having kept them in the game, Kansas City found the net in the 78th minute, when Lopez found Wolff. Spinning away from danger on the left, Lopez swung in a cross that Wolff side-footed home at the back post, keeping alive the Wizards streak of not being shutout (now 17 games).
Then in the 89th minute, Kansas City scored the equalizer. This time it was Michael Harrington on the right flank, putting in a curling cross that Wolff nodded down into the goal for the tying score.
There was one more show of Hartman's ability. Deep into stoppage time, Chris Rolfe sent in a bullet header from the top of the area that was ticketed for the upper left corner, but again Hartman was able to knock it away while completely stretched to save the 2-2 draw.
The Fire hit the road to face the Columbus Crew next Saturday, April 25, while return home to take on the New York Red Bulls on Thursday night.
Kathryn L. Knapp is a contributor to MLSnet.com.