look around the world," said Hamlett, who referenced Manchester United's Wayne Rooney. "When you are a complete player, you can adapt to different positions.You adjust your game and you learn and it makes you a better overall player. He's understanding that part of it, welcoming the challenge, and adapting to the challenge. And whenever we can play with two strikers, he's the first choice up there."
Rolfe has also played as a forward the last two matches. He started on the right side of midfield against Chivas on May 24, and had spent the majority of his time there until starting up top the last two games.
"I've told Chris many times: he's such a talented player," said Hamlett. "His ability around the goal is pretty special. If he's playing up front, we know that when he has half a look, he's dangerous."
After captaining Mexico in the World Cup qualifying victory against the USA at midweek, Cuauhtémoc Blanco was given the day off in Kansas City.
"It's always fun for me to up there and play with Patrick [Nyarko]," said Rolfe. "He's a great player to play with, and I enjoy having Peter Lowry underneath. He's a great player to combine with as well, so it was fun."
The Fire could have made a starting back four from the players sidelined through injury for the K.C. match - Wilman Conde, Gonzalo Segares, Tim Ward and Daniel Woolard. That meant Austin Washington made his first league start of the season - after playing just 13 minutes total in MLS play, none since early April - and Dasan Robinson was making just his fourth of the year.
"These guys have been around here long enough with me, and I've always said to them, 'Just continue to work hard and continue to push yourself because your moment is going to come,'" Hamlett said. "To their credit, they stay positive and wait for their opportunity. Tonight, each guy, in his own way, helped us get this important win tonight because we have to make sure we stay on the heels of Columbus."
LOS ANGELES GALAXYThe Los Angeles Galaxy went a man down early and saw their undefeated streak put to an end at six games, falling 2-0 to Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday evening in their return to The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy fell back into third place in the Western Conference with 31 points from 21 games, a point behind Seattle and eight points behind MLS overall leaders Houston Dynamo.
The Galaxy were back home after four consecutive road games where they won three and drew one, having won five of their last six. Sounders FC were winless in three in a row, having lost two straight, and had gone scoreless in a club-record three games.
The game turned upside-down after just 17 minutes, when Galaxy midfielder David Beckham was given a straight red card by referee Ricardo Salazar for a challenge on Peter Vagenas in the center circle.
Sounders FC took the lead just five minutes later. Brad Evans steamed forward to take control of a loose ball and turned the corner on the right before sliding a pass through the 6-yard box for Steve Zakuani to tap home the third goal of his rookie campaign, ending the club's scoreless drought at 336 minutes.
Seattle doubled their lead in the 54th minute. A corner kick was headed on by Nate Jaqua and Fredy Montero was quickest to it, turned and firing into the roof of the net from close range for his 10th goal of the year, tied for second in the MLS Golden Boot.
Both teams were reduced in numbers in a three-minute span. Tyrone Marshall was sent off with a second yellow card in the 76th minute to leave the game 10-on-10, but LA's Eddie Lewis was shown a straight red in the 79th to once again give Sounders FC the advantage.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made one change to the team that defeated the New England Revolution 2-1 the weekend before. Chris Klein came in on the right of midfield in place of Landon Donovan.
Here's Arena's team (4-1-3-2): Donovan Ricketts - A.J. DeLaGarza, Gregg Berhalter, Omar Gonzalez, Todd Dunivant - Stefani Miglioranzi (Landon Donovan 46) - Chris Klein (Bryan Jordan 58), David Beckham, Eddie Lewis - Alan Gordon (Mike Magee 61), Jovan Kirovski. Substitutes Not Used: Chris Birchall, Dema Kovalenko, Tony Sanneh, Josh Saunders
"Simply, it is not a good performance for our team tonight. Obviously, the initial red card put us behind the 8-ball, and we had to battle for 70-something minutes with 10, and then eventually nine, and all of that," Arena said. "Disappointing was our start of the second half, and conceding the second goal was highly disappointing; a bunch of guys standing around, watching the Seattle guy making the play. Not a good night tonight, didn't deserve more than what we got."
For Beckham, it was his first red card since Feb. 17, 2007 while playing with Real Madrid. "Pete [Vagenas] is one of my best friends. I think it was a hard tackle but by no means is it a red card. I've never gone into a tackle wanting to hurt someone, but the referee saw it different. It was a hard tackle, but not malicious," Beckham said. Said Arena to the Los Angeles Times: "When you throw yourself into that kind of tackle, there's a chance you're going to get sent off," he said. "He's been in enough rodeos."
The red card meant that Landon Donovan came off the bench to start the second half. Donovan had been diagnosed with the H1N1 virus before the U.S. national team's trip to Mexico, where Donovan played at midweek in the 2-1 World Cup qualifying loss.
"I actually felt really good. In hindsight, I wish I could've started the game because I had a lot of energy, but it's frustrating that I couldn't play more. He [Bruce Arena] asked me how I was feeling, and I said I thought I could play 45 minutes," Donovan said. "Maybe in hindsight, I would've tried to start the game and see how I felt at halftime, but in an ideal world, maybe we are winning and I don't have to come in until even later, but that is how it went tonight."
Arena will have to make two changes to his first-choice midfield for the midweek trip to Chicago, after Eddie Lewis was sent off in the 79th minute. When Donovan came on, he figured more as an attacker, after playing as a right-sided midfielder almost exclusively since Beckham's return.
"It is certainly wasn't easy for any attacking player, at that point when you are down with a player, he drew a number of fouls and the second yellow on [Tyrone] Marshall," Arena said. "There were spurts that he played really well, not an easy game for the attacking players with this circumstances that they had to deal with."