What appeared to be an easy win when the Fire took a 2-0 lead after 26 minutes turned into a nail biter after Gonzalo Segares was shown a straight red in the 29th. The club showed some resolve by playing a man down for an hour and scratching out a big win against an Eastern Conference foe vying for playoff position. A hard fought and well deserved three points moved the Fire to 7-5-3 and 24 points just five behind their next opponent, Sporting Kansas City for second place in the table.
No further answers were provided in the ongoing Sebastian Grazzini saga but the Argentine midfielder did expose a "Thanks Chicago" t-shirt after being substituted from the match. He later threw his jersey into the "Sector Latino" area before celebrating the win on the field with the rest of his teammates. Frank Klopas didn't shed much light on the matter in the post game press conference (see video above) but did reiterate that the club holds the option on the player's return. Grazzini departed before media was allowed into the locker room after the match.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - Arguably was the Fire's man of the match with 8 saves on the night. The biggest was a diving outstretched stop of Josh William's header attempt in the 57th minute. He was sure and composed in the box but his distribution still leaves something to be desired.
D Gonzalo Segares (4) - A hard challenge after intercepting a ball at midfield resulted in a straight red card. He may have skated on the red but his studs were showing and that always makes it easier for a referee.
D Dan Gargan (6) - Effective moving forward and helping in the attack before the red card. After Segares' dismissal he moved to left back and did well there too.
D Jalil Anibaba (6) - Pretty good on balls in the air and the Crew had a ton of them in this match. Thirty total crosses from open play made for some anxious moments.
D Austin Berry (6) - Solid night from Berry as Renteria was seldom heard from. Managed a header in the 23rd that Columbus had to clear from the front of goal.
M Pavel Pardo (5) - Tchani got by him on the Crew's lone goal in the 36th minute.
M Logan Pause (6) - Moved to right back after the red card and his absence as the second holding mid was probably felt most when Tchani found the space the get by Pardo and shoot on goal in the 36th. Did well at right back.
M Patrick Nyarko (6) - Active on both ends as usual. Didn't get on the score sheet but he was a handful for Crew defenders when both sides had eleven men on the field. Impressive ball skill in the 28th led to a dangerous foray forward.
M Marco Pappa (6) - A fantastic right footed (yes right footed) strike in the second minute gave the Fire a lead and set the tone for the match early on. Limited offensively in the second half as the club retreated into a more defensive posture. Pappa was asked about his future with the club after the match but he brushed that question aside instead focusing on the win. Check out the video at the Fire Confidential Facecbook page.
M Sebastian Grazzini (6) - Is there really any question that the club needs to have Grazzini on the team in order challenge for playoff spot? He assisted on Oduro's goal and sprung him for another chance in the 20th minute. There were no antics on the bench tonight. He shook hands with the coaching staff and waved to the crowd exposing his "Thanks Chicago" t-shirt as he left the game in the 59th minute. Was it a genuine show of thanks for support or a good-bye?
F Dominic Oduro (6) - Scored the second goal in the 26th and should have drawn a penalty call when he was tripped in the box in the 61st. Could have done better with a 1v1 chance in the 20th.
F Chris Rolfe (6) - Worked a few combinations with Oduro after entering the 59th for Grazzini. Not as dangerous as last week but the situation dictated a little more caution.
D Arne Friedrich (6) - The plan was to wait until the next match to bring him in but he told coaches he was ready to go in this match if needed. Entered in the 72nd minute for Nyarko moving Anibaba to right back and Pause back into midfield.
M Rafael Robayo (6) - Came into the match in the 80th minute for Oduro and did exactly what was needed in controlling the ball and not allowing Columbus to gain possession while whittling down the clock.
C Frank Klopas (6) - Two consecutive wins for the first time this season is a good step forward, particularly against Eastern Conference opposition. The Fire came out looking like the better squad in this one and appeared to be headed for an easy victory before the red card changed things. The club showed some heart in this victory but the road ahead isn't easy.