Behind two goals from almost-hometown boy Chris Rolfe, the Chicago Fire came away from Crew Stadium with a win for the second time on the campaign. In addition to virtually eliminating their Eastern Conference rivals from the playoff hunt, it allowed the Fire to catapult past the Kansas City Wizards into third place in the standings.
"As you get down to the last six or seven games, the points are very important. We knew it would be a real dogfight, a battle, with a team like Columbus coming at us," said Fire boss Dave Sarachan. "Getting the first goal was very important for us."
Added Rolfe: "It is always great to get a goal early, especially on the road."
Rolfe gave the Fire the lead in the fifth minute, but Sarachan was particularly happy with the way his team responded after the Crew tied the match with 10 minutes remaining through Knox Cameron.
"I am proud of my team. After they get the goal in the 79th or so minute, we didn't hang our heads," said Sarachan. "We kept playing and we got the second goal."
The timing of each goal was particularly devastating to the Crew and Rolfe, a leading candidate for rookie-of-the-year, provided clinical finishing on nearly the only two good scoring chances for the Fire on the night.
He tapped home from close range after Logan Pause set off on a long run down the right flank and sent a low ball into the area which was helped on by Andy Herron.
"After they scored, we didn't back down and came right back at them. We got a goal and it says a lot about our team to get this win," said Rolfe. "It is a six-point swing and we needed it."
A resident of Kettering, a suburb of Dayton, Ohio, Rolfe is on pace for a hat trick for the Fire's first visit to Crew Stadium next season. On May 30, he scored his second goal of the season in the Fire's 2-0 win. He followed up that performance with goals seven and eight during this Ohio trip.
"It is awesome getting a couple goals in Columbus. It is only an hour from where I went to college," said Rolfe. "My family lives there too. I had a lot of friends and family come out. I don't know how many people were here, but I gave away a lot of tickets tonight, that's all I'll say."
John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.