Well, I can't say I saw that one coming. After 89 minutes of play in a game full of twists, turns, penalty kicks, yellow cards (and, gasp, even a red!) the Chicago Fire's 10-game unbeaten streak looked to be coming to a close. League leaders Chivas USA were up 2-1 and (although they were down a man) only had to last a few more minutes to give the Fire their first defeat of the year.
But the Fire had other ideas. A Patrick Nyarko equalizer in the 89th minute followed by a successful Cuauhtemoc Blanco penalty kick gave the Fire all three points in a match that they probably did not deserve to win.
Regardless, the Fire will gladly take the result and will now turn their focus towards their date with FC Dallas on Sunday.
Here are a few thoughts I had on the match. I loved the Fire's persistence coming back in this game. It was nice
to see the Fire capitalize on being a man up and net two second half
goals for the win. I thought that it showed a lot of mental toughness
on the Fire's part and it was nice to see the Fire (and not the
opposition) come from behind.
It was also nice to see Patrick Nyarko with the equalizer. I thought
that his insertion to the match provided the Fire with an offensive spark and his
speed definitely caused problems for the Chivas defense.
One thing I did not like so much was the Fire's lack of pressure on Chivas attackers in the middle of the field. The Fire consistently gave Chivas attackers tons of room, and midfielder Paulo Nagamura took full advantage, scoring a goal on a 30+ yard strike on which no Fire player was within 5 yards of the Brazilian.
Another thing that I wasn't too excited about was the performance of referee Terry
Vaughn. I thought that he lost control of the match in the first half
and gave out a few too many yellow cards (although I did think that
most of them were deserved). Also, his penalty kick decisions were a
little questionable. I thought that the Fire got a little lucky with
both of their penalty calls, and Chivas USA will definitely feel a bit
And how about the Fire fans that made the trek to the Home Depot
Center? Ok, so maybe those cheers heard at the HDC after Blanco's
second PK were more for the Mexican international than the Fire, but
still, one can pretend.
On a separate note, I would like to give a special shout out to ESPN2
for their up-close and personal coverage of the match. I particularly
enjoyed the audio of Sacha Kljestan cursing out Denis Hamlett. More
seriously though, it was nice to see the Fire on national TV.