The Fire took a step backward last weekend with a 2-0 loss to New England but regained the lost footing with a 1-0 win over Conference leader Sporting Kansas City. Hunter Jumper's 13th minute diving header allowed the Fire to play with a lead and despite losing the possession battle 59-41 didn't gave up many dangerous looks.
A good team effort resulted in only the fourth clean sheet of the season for the Chicago defense. There was an opportunity to ice it in the 64th minute but Chris Rolfe decided to shoot on a 2v0 opportunity and missed his attempt left of goal. The Fire don't make anything easy and it appears this season will come down to the wire again in the race for a playoff spot.
Sporting has now lost four of their last five matches and has fallen behind Montreal for the lead in the East. As a result of the Impact's 5-0 drubbing of Houston, the Fire can jump into the fifth spot with a win over the Dynamo next Sunday.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - Registered four saves with the strongest of the lot coming in the 86th when he stoned Sinovic on a shot from the right side. More decisive in the box since his USOC gaffe. He's not taking any chances and punching anything questionable out of the way.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) - Sapong and Joseph didn't have much going against the Fire's left side.
D Austin Berry (6) - One of Berry's best games in some time. Very effective in the air against KC crosses and provided a huge block of Sapong's shot in the 63rd denying a good look at goal. Catch Berry and Jumper in post game comments at the Fire Confidential Facebook page.
D Hunter Jumper (6) - Impressive on both ends of the pitch and excellent in tandem with Berry to limit chances in the middle. Not only did he score the goal but he also got his head on another two balls in the box that could have been dangerous. Jumper deserves a lot of credit for being ready when called upon and delivering after losing a spot as the back-up left back.
D Jalil Anibaba (6) - You'd still like to see some improvement in a few areas but his cross to Magee which led to the goal was perfectly placed. Caught a little too high in the 86th leading to Sinovic's chance.
M Jeff Larentowicz (6) - Strong two way performance for Larentowicz particularly in the first half when he was all over the pitch .
M Egidio Arevalo Rios (6) - After a relatively quiet debut in New England last week he showed why he'll be a factor for the Fire. Very effective in coordinating and being in the right spot defensively. The area in front of the back four was closed down and that typically has been a problem this season. Passing wasn't as sharp as it was in New England but was a factor in this one.
M Dilly Duka (5) - Nothing spectacular but there were a few highlights. Made a nice move to evade defenders in the 75th to set up Anangono but the forward was ruled just offside.
M Alex (6) - A better night on the passing end and a good night all around when it came to playing a team game.
F Chris Rolfe (5) - Didn't play badly but that miss on a 2v0 break with Magee in the 64th will be what people remember.
F Mike Magee (6) - Didn't score but was credited with an assist when got the ball to Jumper for the only goal of the game. Passing was uncharacteristically off but still managed to make his presence felt.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Back in action after missing two games due to concussion symptoms. Worked a good combination with Duka and Anangono in the 71st.v Came into match in the 65th for Alex.
F Juan Luis Anangono (6) - His shot five minutes after checking into the match for Rolfe in the 68th came inches away from giving the Fire a 2-0 lead. His volley would have been a goal of the week nominee if not for Nielsen's fingertip save.
M Joel Lindpere (5) -A late 85th minute sub for Duka.
Fire Confidential Podcast
Catch the latest episode of the Podcast as we catch up with Fire color commentator Kevin Egan. We discuss the Sporting KC game, the playoff push in the Eastern Conference, and Mike Magee's MVP chances.