The Fire are off to a positive start in 2011 after defeating Sporting Kansas City 3-2 in front of a frigid 12,157 fans in Bridgeview. Defending home turf has been an issue over the last two seasons but the Fire have followed a positive result in Dallas with a win at home. “I remember last season there were some matches we played good and the result wasn’t with us. I need to take care of this situation because I need to manage the moments in the game to get the result,” said Carlos De Los Cobos.
The Fire continued to create chances as they did last week. The offensive spark plug once again was Gaston Puerari who is adding a dimension to the Fire attack that was missing in 2010. Puerari is frustraing defenders with speed and high pressure opening opportunities for Diego Chaves and Marco Pappa. The Uruguayan attacker also drew a red card from an opposing player for the second consecutive week.
Defensively the Fire played relatively well with the exception of the two isolated plays which led to the Kansas City goals. Sean Johnson took responsibility for the first goal after a short hop from a cross escaped him. “I definitely should have handled it better. The ball came across and I just should have gotten my body around it a little bit better,” said Johnson.
The second goal was simply a result of a terrible back pass attempt by Gonzalo Segares that was intercepted by Teal Bunbury sending him in alone in front of Johnson’s goal. That mistake made the game closer than it should have been but Kansas City did put up a fight despite being a man down for 60 minutes.
GK Sean Johnson (6) – Johnson muffed the bounce on the first KC goal but also saved an own goal with an acrobatic tip of a cleared header from a Kansas City free kick in 44th minute. Seemed a little more steady in the air this week.
D Jalil Anibaba (6) – Handled Omar Bravo pretty well 1v1 in the first half before Bravo’s exit. Kansas City tried to test the match up early and the rookie responded. Got into the attack and possesion a little more in the second half as well.
D Cory Gibbs (6) – Gibbs helpled the Fire limited Kansas City’s opportunities. He also had a chance to contribute offensively but overshot the goal on an early Fire chance in the second minute. Solid outing.
D Josip Mikulic (6) – Appears to be a rock solid central defender after the first two matches of the season. Knows when to step up and challenge and when to stay back. This guy may be just as important an addition as Puerari and Chaves.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) – Had a decent first half but struggled in the second. His failed back pass to Anibaba set up Bunbury’s goal and had a few issues with Sapong late.
M Logan Pause (6) – Pause was solid again while fully embracing the role of team captain. The Fire alllowed limited opportunities but Kansas City enjoyed a little too much possesion for being a man down for an hour. Pause also is more involved in the attack going forward than he has been in the past making several runs that could have resulted in chances while moving the ball forward positively.
M Mike Videira (6) – Sharing the holding midifield role along with Pause, he does provide another workmanlike defender who can also play forward. His pass to Puerari led to the Fire’s second goal.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) – Still seems to be hesitant to shoot on goal when an opportunity to be more selfish arises. As an example, Gibbs’ early shot on goal was a result of a passed shooting chance from Nyarko in the box. Was also hesitant to charge forward after Pappa dribbled through defenders to create a chance in the 16th minute inside of the area. Improved as the game went on.
M Marco Pappa (7) – Assisted on Puerari’s goal and showed some of the ability to create and be more “dynamic” that the Fire is looking for. While talking about his goal after the match, Josip Mikulic jokingly compared him to Messi. Also forced Nielsen to work on several other chances while managing to convert his goal with a right footed shot.
F Gaston Puerari (7) – He’s changed the way the Fire will have to be defended and works very well with his strike partner in Chaves. Finished his chance in clinical fashion after missing the break away opportunity last week in Dallas. Puerari is everything Nery Castillo should have been at a fraction of the cost.
F Diego Chaves (7) – Buried a rocket shot into the upper netting on the penalty kick attempt to give the Fire the lead. Passed the ball well and kept the offense moving when he had to as well. Set up Barouch for a break away chance in the 81st minute. Forced Nielsen into a difficult save in the 47th.
F Orr Barouch (6) – More invlolved in short action as a sub than he was last week. Came on for Puerari in the 74th minute.
F Dominic Oduro (NR) – Entered the match in the 90th minute for Chaves.
D Dasan Robinson (NR) – Came on in stoppage time for Nyarko.
C Carlos De Los Cobos (6) – The Fire needed a win at home in order to give the result in Dallas any resonance and they got it. The team started the match in a 4-4-2 alignment and briefly used the 3-5-2 after Bravo’s red card. They will need to cut down on careless mistakes such as the two flubs which led to KC’s two scores. Other than those two isolated plays, the Fire did what was needed to win.
De Los Cobos on the US Open Cup match against Colorado on Wednesday, “We’re going to play with our best on the field. We want to play with responsibility. We know last year’s result was poor. We’re going to try to win the game.”
Gaston Puerari says the hip injury which caused him to miss training time during the week is nothing and he’ll be fine going forward.
Logan Pause became the youngest Fire player ever (29) to reach 200 regular season games played. He is the 61st player in MLS history to do so.
Listen to De Los Cobos’ complete post game press conference here.