A bit of redemption and a huge three points moved the Fire closer to clinching a playoff spot after an impressive 2-0 win over the Red Bulls in New York. Chicago reclaimed sole possession of second place after DC United’s victory in Toronto earlier in the day temporarily pushed them ahead of the Fire in the Eastern Conference table.
Arne Friedrich and Sherjill MacDonald were stand out performers on the day as the visitors managed to deny New York’s talented attackers of very many clear scoring chances at the same time putting away two quality opportunities of their own. The win sets up the Fire with some time to recover as they hope to have Pavel Pardo back in the side against New England on October 20. That match along with the final home regular season game on October 27 against DC United will still be important matches in relation to the Fire’s final standing in the table.
The playoffs are getting closer.
GK Sean Johnson (6) – The Fire’s first clean sheet since July 14 and the defense didn’t have to rely on Johnson to bail them out with any spectacular saves. A good defensive performance all around and the goalkeeper handled everything that came his way.
D Jalil Anibaba (6) – Served in an excellent cross in the 44th minute finding Fernandez for a header attempt on goal. A much better day than the last match.
D Austin Berry (7) – Should have cemented his Rookie of the Year award with an impressive performance against the dangerous Cooper/Henry attacking duo. Berry and his central partner, Arne Friedrich allowed very little in terms of good looks at goal particularly after the Fire took the lead.
D Arne Friedrich (8) – An all-star performance against arguably the top offensive player in MLS. Denied Henry with a huge block in the 27th minute that could have given NY the lead. Chipped in offensively again with a shot in the 53rd that forced Robles into a tough save and started the play leading to the first goal. Top notch effort from the German centerback after calling for better play following the loss on Wednesday night.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) – He was missed against the Union and played well in this match. Picked his spots for getting forward. Stopped Henry 1v1 at the edge of the box in the 55th.
M Logan Pause (6) – New York allowed the Fire midfield some space and the central combination looked much better. Kept the ball moving when he had to and Tim Cahill was rarely heard from.
M Daniel Paladini (6) – Another big improvement from Wednesday night. Made things uncomfortable for Red Bull attackers and provided an invaluable assist on the second goal to ice the game for the Fire.
M Patrick Nyarko (6) – Matched up against Wilman Conde in the first half and forced New York to drop Lindpere deeper in order to aid defensively. Forced Conde out at half-time and continued to torment his replacement Conor Lade in the second half. Played well although his work didn’t produce a score. Subbed out in the 67th with what appeared to be cramps.
M Alvaro Fernandez (5) – A better game than the previous effort but there were still too many turnovers and his header attempt in the 44th minute could have given the Fire the lead. The shot was hit just over the crossbar but he was unmarked and driving it down may have provided a more favorable outcome.
F Chris Rolfe (6) – A beautiful pass to MacDonald set up the first score. More active in this match than the previous effort.
F Sherjill MacDonald (8) – A big time match. Played very well with his back to goal in holding up the ball and put away two chances with skillful touches. It was good to see him put away a 1v1 chance for the first goal and a soft touch with the outside of his boot neatly beat Robles for the second. An outstanding day for MacDonald.
M Wells Thompson (5) – Subbed in for Fernandez in the 60th minute. The move seemed odd at the time but he contributed with a pair of pass blocks late in the game. Had one clear look at goal that he skied well over the net in the 70th minute.
M Dominic Oduro (5) – Came in for Nyarko in the 67th and played a part in key possession over the last ten minutes as the Fire looked to hold on to the two goal advantage.
M Mike Videira (5) – Entered the match for Paladini in the 81st as he also appeared to cramp up. Like Oduro, he figured into some valuable clock killing in the final minutes.
C Frank Klopas (6) – Klopas wasn’t on the sideline on Wednesday night and it seems that the “fire” (pardon the pun) returned to the side with his presence on the bench. A huge win of this nature, particularly after the dismal performance against Philadelphia shows why Klopas should garner some Coach of the Year votes.