The Chicago Fire took advantage of a defensive miscue in the first half and survived a penalty kick early in the second, before shutting down the MetroStars to claim a 1-0 victory at Giants Stadium on Friday night.
Nate Jaqua scored the game's only goal when he stripped MetroStars defender Jeff Parke and held off the second-year player before driving the ball home. Amado Guevara then missed a penalty kick -- after going 6-for-6 from the spot last season -- before the Fire closed down the home side.
The Fire back three of Jim Curtin flanked by C.J. Brown and Samuel Caballero allowed the MetroStars strike force any real quality chances, save for a couple of testing shots from former French international Youri Djorkaeff. The visitors continually suppressed the Metrostars in midfield and hit them hard on the break, though their own three-pronged strike force found good opportunities lacking.
The breakthrough came in the 29th minute when the Fire pressure finally paid off. Jaqua caught Parke in possession, stripping the ball away before breaking through on goal, holding off the young defender to get one-on-one with Zach Wells and driving a low shot that deflected off the 'keeper and into the goal.
Shortly after, the MetroStars responded with their only chance on goal in the half, from a beautiful Djorkaeff volley from a narrow angle that Zach Thornton smothered on the near post.
The Fire then dodged a bullet in the 47th minute. A beautiful through ball from Djorkaeff found John Wolyniec through on goal only to be tripped up from behind by Kelly Gray as Ricardo Valenzuela whistled for the penalty kick.
Guevara hit the ball low and to his left, beating Thornton, but not the post. The ball careened off the inside of the post, bounced back and hit Thornton's back before slipping wide of the goal for a corner.
Then in the 55th minute Djorkaeff again got on the end of a looping ball to the right post and again volleyed, and again Thornton thwarted the Frenchman.
After that chance the MetroStars rarely threatened as the Fire put the clamps down on the home side. Their only opportunity on goal over the final half-hour was a low bouncing shot from 25 yards -- again from Djorkaeff -- but again the big Fire 'keeper got down well and smothered it to seal a second consecutive victory for the Fire.
The Fire return to action on Wednesday to take on the New England Revolution in a rescheduled match set to begin at 6 p.m. CT before an international friendly between Mexico and Poland.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Zach Thornton (Chicago Fire)
Laurence Moroney is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Chicago Fire (2-1-1) vs. MetroStars (0-1-2)
April 22, 2005 -- Giants Stadium
CHI -- Nate Jaqua 1 (unassisted) 29
Chicago Fire -- Zach Thornton, C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin, Samuel Caballero, Kelly Gray, Chris Armas (Logan Pause 59), Thiago, Jesse Marsch, Ivan Guerrero, Nate Jaqua, Justin Mapp (Chad Barrett 65).
Substitutes Not Used: Leonard Griffin, Andy Herron, Matt Pickens.
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Nate Jaqua 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Kelly Gray 1, Nate Jaqua 1); FOULS: 18 (Jim Curtin 4, Justin Mapp 4); OFFSIDES: 1 (Chad Barrett 1); CORNER KICKS: 8 (Thiago 6); SAVES: 3 (Zach Thornton 3)
MetroStars -- Zach Wells, Chris Leitch, Carlos Mendes, Jeff Parke (Tim Ward 46), Jeff Agoos (Tim Regan 46), Youri Djorkaeff, Michael Bradley, Amado Guevara, Mark Lisi, John Wolyniec, Sergio Galvan Rey (Eddie Gaven 70).
Substitutes Not Used: Ramon Bailey, Gilberto Flores, Jason Hernandez, Mike Magee, Seth Stammler, Michael Ueltschey.
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Youri Djorkaeff 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Youri Djorkaeff 3); FOULS: 8 (Youri Djorkaeff 2); OFFSIDES: 3 (John Wolyniec 2); CORNER KICKS: 3 (3 tied with 1); SAVES: 1 (Zach Wells 1)
CHI -- C.J. Brown (caution; Pushing, Holding) 27
CHI -- Nate Jaqua (caution; Pushing, Holding) 60
MET -- Amado Guevara (caution; Dissent) 61
Referee: Ricardo Valenzuela
Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry; Steven Taylor
4th Official: Jorge Gonzalez
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.