On Wednesday night at Soldier Field, the Chicago Fire and Kansas City Wizards put on a wildly entertaining -- yet truly schizophrenic -- display. For the opening half hour, the Fire could do no wrong, jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead. But the final hour was all K.C., and the Wizards slipped out of the Windy City with an impressive 3-2 road victory behind the strength of two goals from forward Josh Wolff.
The Fire built their early advantage as the triumvrate of midfielder Thiago and forwards Chris Rolfe and Lubos Reiter terrorized the Kansas City defenders and goalkeeper Bo Oshoniyi. The threesome buzzed the Kansas City goal incessantly, hitting the back of the Wizards net in the third and sixth minutes for a quick two-goal lead.
The first Fire goal was the result of a well-placed through ball from Fire midfielder Justin Mapp, who sprung Thiago for a 25-yard run to goal. As Oshoniyi came out to cut down the angle, Thiago surprised him by chipping a beautiful shot from about 20 yards that made it just over the 'keeper and settled just under the crossbar in the top right corner.
The second goal was scored by forward Reiter on a clever assist from forward Rolfe. The rookie made a quick run into the middle of the Wizards box and as the defense appraoched him, he placed a brilliant lead ball out to his left which left Reiter to tuck a low, left-footed shot into the far left corner and it looked as if the Wizards were going to be run out of Soldier Field.
But the Wizards finally settled after the first 30 minutes and began to assert themselves, as the Fire defense simply melted under the pressure. In the 37th minute Wolff raced onto a long through ball from forward Scott Sealy, just beating Fire 'keeper Zach Thornton to the punch, and chipped a shot in off of the right Fire post from about 30 yards out.
The Wizards almost drew even in the 42nd minute on a clever run all the way across the Fire penalty area by Wolff, but his shot was deflected by a fallen Fire defender who had become tangled up with Thornton.
Kansas City did not relent though, and got their second goal in the 43rd minute off of a corner kick scramble in front of the Fire goal. Midfielder Sasha Victorine was the recipient of the lucky bounce.
As the teams headed to the locker room knotted up at two goals apiece, Thornton overreacted in speaking his mind to the match referees and was issued a second yellow card, ending his involvement on the night. He was replaced to start the second half by backup Matt Pickens.
While the first half was an unrelenting offensive showcase, it was obvious that both head coaches made it a point to tighten up the leaky back lines during the halftime strategy sessions. The majority of the seocnd-half action was around midfield as the sides held onto the ball for extended periods and scoring chances were hard to come by.
But the Wizards finally broke the deadlock in the 68th minute on Wolff's second goal of the evening. He received a ball from midfielder Davy Arnaud to the right of the Fire goal, and he lost his marker with a quick turn to his right and ripped a high, hard shot over and through Pickens.
The Fire's best chance at tying the match and gaining something from the evening came in the 84th minute as substitute forward Chad Barrett redirected a header to the left post off of a long cross from the left. The ball beat Oshoniyi, but was cleared off the goal line by a K.C. defender, much to the chagrin of the Fire faithful.
The evening proved to be a huge success for the Wizards, as they picked up their first-ever win in Chicago and now get to head to Utah to take on Real Salt Lake this Saturday. The evening proved to be more of a disaster for the Fire, as they will try to take out their frustrations on the Los Angeles Galaxy in a home match on the the same day, their last home game for nearly two months.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Josh Wolff (Kansas City Wizards)
Toby True is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Kansas City Wizards (9-5-8) vs. Chicago Fire (11-9-3)
August 10, 2005 -- Soldier Field
CHI -- Thiago 5 (Justin Mapp 6, Lubos Reiter 2) 3
CHI -- Lubos Reiter 3 (Chris Rolfe 4, Thiago 7) 6
KC -- Josh Wolff 5 (Scott Sealy 2, Chris Klein 7) 37
KC -- Sasha Victorine 5 (Brian Roberts 1, Jose Burciaga Jr. 4) 43
KC -- Josh Wolff 6 (Davy Arnaud 2) 68
Kansas City Wizards -- Bo Oshoniyi, Brian Roberts, Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas, Jose Burciaga Jr., Sasha Victorine (Jack Jewsbury 85), Kerry Zavagnin, Davy Arnaud, Chris Klein, Scott Sealy, Josh Wolff (Khari Stephenson 90).
Substitutes Not Used: Diego Gutierrez, Will Hesmer, Preki.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Josh Wolff 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 8 (Josh Wolff 4); FOULS: 12 (Sasha Victorine 3); OFFSIDES: 2 (Scott Sealy 2); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Jose Burciaga Jr. 3, Chris Klein 3); SAVES: 7 (Bo Oshoniyi 5)
Chicago Fire -- Zach Thornton, Logan Pause, C.J. Brown, Samuel Caballero, Ivan Guerrero, Justin Mapp (Matt Pickens 46), Chris Armas, Thiago (John Thorrington 78), Gonzalo Segares, Chris Rolfe, Lubos Reiter (Chad Barrett 75).
Substitutes Not Used: Jim Curtin, Will John, Will Johnson, Jesse Marsch, Tony Sanneh, Jack Stewart.
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Thiago 3, Chris Rolfe 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 9 (Thiago 3); FOULS: 11 (Samuel Caballero 3); OFFSIDES: 3 (Lubos Reiter 2); CORNER KICKS: 9 (Chris Armas 5); SAVES: 5 (Zach Thornton 3)
KC -- Davy Arnaud (caution; Reckless Foul) 8
CHI -- Zach Thornton (caution; Dissent) 42
CHI -- C.J. Brown (caution; Dissent) 42
CHI -- Zach Thornton (ejection; Second Caution) 47+
Referee: Brian Hall
Referee's Assistants: Steven Taylor; Anthony Vasoli
4th Official: Ricardo Salazar
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.