The final score wasn't necessarily indicative of the performance but the Fire were clearly the better side throughout this match. An aggressive posture was needed right from the start and they did that. A first goal was necessary to set a struggling Dallas team back on their heels and they accomplished that. Insurance goals were needed to put them away and they also added that to a game that never should have been as close as the final score showed.
A three goal lead with thirty minutes to play looked like the laugher that's been long overdue. Unfortunately for the Fire, nothing is easy. Kenny Cooper scored against the Fire yet again to make it 3-1 and a gift from referee Kevin Stott in the form of a questionable penalty kick award narrowed the lead in the 75th minute but there was no late gut punch goal this time. Chicago held on to register a much deserved three points and jumped back into the 5th spot in the Eastern Conference in the process.
Holding on will be the trick now. A game next week against Toronto FC should result in another victory with the final match of the season in New York looming as a possible decider for postseason play.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - Not the spectacular day that he had last week but still solid nonetheless. Notched 3 saves with a big stop in the 81st coming against Castillo when Dallas was pushing for an equalizer. His call up for the USMNT's last World Cup Qualifier is well deserved. Fortunately for the Fire he won't miss any time and will be back for the Toronto game.
D Jalil Anibaba (6) - With a finish that will be a "goal of the week" nominee and worthy of making any attacker jealous , Anibaba appeared to ice the game in the 52nd. His bending shot from 22 that curled into the upper 90 ended up being the game winner. He also had a pretty good field game other than a few moments against Jackson that resulted in two half chances.
D Austin Berry (6) - Almost matched Anibaba in spectacular goals by a defender with a bicycle kick that just went wide of the net in the 78th. Cooper ended up scoring twice but Dallas wasn't truly dangerous in the box for most of the night.
D Bakary Soumare (6) - One of the better games in recent play for this center back duo. They were in control most of the night and Soumare even chipped in with a few good passes springing attacks.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Was the unfortunate recipient of Stott's goof on a penalty kick call in the 74th when he and Jackson battled for the ball and both players went down in the area. He was also on the end of a cross in the 63rd and wasn't able to hold off the hulking Cooper (who may have been offside) for Dallas' first goal. He did serve several nice crosses into the box throughout the match.
M Jeff Larentowicz (7) - Another player in complete control of his area for most of the match. He was entrusted with playing alone in front of the back line as Alex came forward and he came through completing 40 of 49 passes while rendering FCD's dual central mids essentially useless.
M Alex (6) - His shot in the 42nd after a turnover deflected off of Magee and into the net to give the Fire a two goal lead. Much of the Fire's success in June and July came with the Alex/Larentowicz duo in central midfield and his play in this match should give Frank Klopas something to consider.
M Patrick Nyarko (6) - Set the tone early with pressure and high work rate. Involved and active through the entirety of his 80 minutes. Klopas said in post game that he was looking to sub him out after 65 minutes due to a hamstring issue but an injury to Duka in the 67th changed that strategy. It seems the hamstring may be a problem going forward and this will be something to watch in the next few days.
M Dilly Duka (6) - A pair of long distance shots were just wide but he was also involved in several dangerous combinations. He was helped off the field in the 67th and the Fire now appear to have some injury concerns on the outside.
F Mike Magee (6) - A goal and an assist gets Magee back into the talk for league MVP. His league lead tying 19th goal wasn't exactly a masterpiece as it appeared to glance in off his arm but Magee continues to be in the right place at the right time. His effort was even more impressive considering Klopas confirmed that he did not train all week with tendinitis in his right calf.
F Juan Luis Anangono (7) - His best match in a Fire shirt. Anangono was a load the entire night earning corner kick after corner kick and causing fits for the Dallas defense. His header in the 25th gave the Fire the lead and lends hope that the team can finally be dangerous from corner kicks. Could have done a little better with a chance in the 87th but Seitz denied him after a great run and pass from Larentowicz.
M Wells Thompson (5) - What appeared to be a head scratching substitution at the time (for Duka in the 67th) ended up working as Thompson did well to kill the clock in the waning moments and even drew a yellow card instead of earning one.
M Daniel Paladini (5) - Subbed in for Nyarko in the 80th minute as the Fire looked to escape with a 1 goal victory.
M Logan Pause (5) - Entered the match in the 82nd for Magee and it seemed the Fire were in full bunker mode but knowing that Magee did not train all week makes this much more sensible. Dallas' last good chance came in the 81st.
The final regular season home game against Toronto FC and chance to put the pressure on the rest of the contenders for the final playoff spots in the East.