The Fire don't make anything easy for themselves. Facing an FC Dallas side missing several of their most important players they still managed to fall behind for the eighth time in eleven games this season. After rookie defender Matt Hedges scored to give the visitors the lead in the 41st minute, a spectacular left footed strike from Sebastian Grazzini just four minutes later seemed to shake the haze away from a less than sizzling first half.
The Fire caught a break when referee Hilario Grajeda failed to recognize that Marco Pappa had entered the penalty area early on Sebastian Grazzini's spot kick attempt but he also missed Matt Hedges encroaching on the play as well. The Fire's second goal probably should have been disallowed and re-taken but Grazzini would likely not have missed two in a row. "I talked with Marco before hand that he was going to run in there," joked Grazzini after the match.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - A huge penatly kick stop on Blas Perez in the 52nd minute preserved the victory and could help him regain some of the confidence that he's apparently been struggling to recapture this season. Came out aggressively in the 19th minute to deny a scoring chance for Benitez but nearly made a huge gaffe in the 7th minute when Perez intercepted a lazy pass in the back intended for Berry. Distribution still needs work.
D Dan Gargan (5) - Decent game for Gargan but he wasn't as involved with overlapping runs as he usually is.
D Jalil Anibaba (5) - Tried several long balls over the top for Nyarko in the first half and only one connected to create a scoring chance in the 12th minute. Lost the mark on Perez in the 41st which led to Dallas' lone score. Blocked a Perez shot nicely in the 29th.
D Austin Berry (6) - Strong work from Berry again. Hustled back to stop a dangerous counter in the 40th minute and won just about every challenge in the air he was involved in. At this pace it shouldn't be long before Berry starts earning some serious consideration from Juergen Klinsmann. He's been that good.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) - Involved on both ends of the field. Good combination play with Pappa led to a chance in the 59th.
M Logan Pause (5) - Just missed Oduro on a pass in the 12th but there is significant drop offensively from Pardo at this spot. Good effort from Pause as always although FCD had a bit too much control in midfield during the first half.
M Patrick Nyarko (6) - Works and hustles at both ends of the pitch every game. Trapped a long ball from Anibaba nicely to create an opportunity in the 12th, provided some electric footwork in the 26th to get by two defenders and feed Grazzini for a shot, and provided even more nice work late to keep Dallas from gaining possession.
M Marco Pappa (7) - Provided the pass that led to Grazzini's goal and scored on the rebound from the PK attempt. He did break into the box early as Hilario Grajeda and the AR both missed the call. "We never know what's going to happen on the PK and the ball came to me and I'm happy because we have three points at home," said Pappa. "Everybody was saying I came in early," said Pappa with a shrug. "But that's soccer." Also drew the foul which resulted in the penalty kick award. Pappa has really picked it up since a slow start to the season.
M Rafael Robayo (6) - Provided a strong performance in his second MLS start. An excellent block and clearance in the 38th, a good long ball on the ground to Pappa in the 47th, another ball to Nyarko just missed setting up the Fire's third score in the 78th. A professional effort after some unforunate comments last week.
M Sebastian Grazzini (6) - A better start and a better attempt on the PK shot would have kicked this up one notch. His golazo in the 45th minute shows why his success is vitally important to this club's fortunes. When he has space to operate he's one of the top playmakers in MLS.
F Dominic Oduro (5) - Not sure if the after effects of tweaking a muscle over the weekend had any lingering effects but he seemed a step off in this one.
F Orr Barouch (6) - The Fire seemed to pick it up offensively when Barouch entered the match in the 59th minute for Oduro. Lot's of good combination play from Barouch kept the ball moving.
M Pavel Pardo (5) - Came in for Grazzini in the 76th as the Fire looked to clamp down defensively.
M Corben Bone (NR) - Finally got to see a few minutes after entering for Pappa in the 89th.
C Frank Klopas (6) - A win at home against a team that always seems to give the club fits is a good thing but this is a Dallas squad that they should have been able to handle. Defending second balls on set pieces is a problem that Klopas admits needs to be better. The Dallas goal was a more impressive play than it originally looked as Hedges just finished picking himself up off the turf to get a header on the rebound ball.
Fire supporter's were finally able to claim the Brimstone Cup from their Dallas counterparts for the first time since 2001. The question is, will it ever be seen again?
A road trip to Columbus to face a Crew side that defeated the Sounders 2-0 in Seattle. The match will be televised locally for the first time on NBC 5 Chicago. A huge travelling contingent of over 600 Fire fans is expected to attend.
You can watch post game locker room reaction from Sean Johnson, Marco Pappa, and Sebastian Grazzini on the Fire Confidential facebook page.