BRIDGEVIEW- It's not coming along as fast as Chicago Fire fans would like it, but it's coming along slowly as the weather gets warmer. On Sunday, the Fire got their first victory at Toyota Park by holding off Sporting Kansas City with a 2-1 victory. They have now won two in-a-row and the 15,746 fans in attendance now have a new sense of hope for the rest of the season.
All it took for the Fire to win today was two penalty kick goals from forward Mike Magee in the first half (7th and 16th minutes). With those goals he is now 12th on the Fire's all-time goal scoring list (22). But for Magee goals are just secondary, getting the victory is more important.
"I feel like we need to find a way to put teams away and make it easier for ourselves" Magee said after the game, "Usually after I score a couple and win I feel like a million bucks but it was a hard fought game" he added.
Regardless, the Fire will take a win anyway that they can get it. They are now 2-2-6 with 12 points after Sunday's big win. KC got a goal late in the 68th minute thanks to a free kick from forward Dominic Dwyer which prevented a shutout victory. Fire head coach and director of soccer operations Frank Yallop says his defense is still a work in progress.
"There's room for improvement" Yallop said at his press conference, "We won the game, it's nice if defensively we can get a shutout but we'll take it" he added.
Aside from that lone goal, the Fire actually looked like a much improved team on the defensive end. Even though SKC (5-4-2, 17 points) won the possession battle 58-percent to 41-percent, the Fire managed to keep them within midfield for most of the game. Not counting the second half goal, Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson had two saves.
The other nine shots taken by Kansas City were either blocked, deflected or off target. The Fire outshot SKC 15-12. This was also a physical game, especially in the second half. A total of 48 fouls were called and six yellow cards were issued. Two of those yellows led to the ejection of SKC defender Erik Palmer-Brown who was called for a couple of hard fouls.
There was also a lot of pushing and shoving and even a few no-calls that drew the ire of some fans. But Magee said post-game that this was just another day at the office. "It was a physical game. When your playing KC, it's a rivalry game so it's going to be tough."
Despite the physicality the Fire played a much better game then they have all season. But the schedule starts to get tougher from here. On Saturday, the Fire will travel to Ohio to play the always difficult Columbus Crew (3-4-4, 13 points). They will return home on Sunday June 1st to face the Los Angeles Galaxy who despite their 2-3-3 record (9 points), are always a formidable opponent.
Here is the box score from today's game.
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