July 8, 2012
Playing at home, Fire can't get it together
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - The Chicago Fire have played in some tough places of late and come away with results. It turned out the toughest place, however, was at home in front of a sellout crowd, against the hungry- for- a- win LA Galaxy.
|Jalil Anibabaís handball opened the door for Robbie Keane to score the first of his two goals for the LA Galaxy Sunday at Toyota Park.
Photo courtesy Chicago Fire
"It is disappointing for us to be at home with a great atmosphere and to lose a game," said Fire coach Frank Klopas. "Itís one game. We didnít lose anything right now. Thereís a lot of games to be played and you have to move on. Obviously, there wasnít anything created from either side in the first half and a penalty gave them the opportunity to go ahead. Itís one game, we have to move on and regroup."
It might have been only one game, but it was a game in which David Beckham didn't play, serving an MLS-imposed suspension while watching the final at Wimbledon; a game in which recently-activated former defender of the year Omar Gonzalez, coming off a serious knee injury, didn't play; one in which captain Landon Donovan came into off the bench midway through the second half.
"We donít have any excuses," said defender Arne Friedrich. "We were pretty lazy today on the pitch. We didnít have any movement. No one was 100% today. In my eyes, we didnít have the effort like we have to show. There are no excuses, we deserved to lose today. Today was a small step back. It happens. The last games we did pretty good. No excuses. We have to stand up and we will. We will prepare this week for Vancouver."
Robbie Keane did all the damage for the Galaxy, who have struggled to a 7-10-2 record so far this year, coming off a stunning 2-1 loss to Philadelphia in LA on Wednesday.
In the 24th minute, Fire defender Jalil Anibaba attempted to block the ball in the box. It deflected off his arm for a handball and Galaxy penalty kick. Keane lined up in front of the goal and buried the shot into the lower right corner past Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who dove to the left.
Down 1-0 at the half, the Fire made offensive changes immediately. Brazilian international Alex entered the match as a substitution for Logan Pause in the 46th minute.
Donovan entered the match in the 65th minute and was quick to take control. On a counterattack in the 78th minute, he sprinted toward the goal with two defenders marking him. What the defenders didn't see was a wide-open Keane streaking toward goal on the left side of the pitch. Donovan sent the ball to Keane, who rocketed the shot into the goal for a 2-0 L.A. advantage.
"We prepare whether he is there or not," said Pause of Donovan. "Obviously, he came in and made a big impact."
It wasn't so much what the Galaxy did as what the Fire didn't do, creating few real chances to score, and seemingly missing the playmaking of Sebastian Grazzini.
"Today we were a step behind in everything," said Klopas. "They were fresher and sharper. We talked about it at halftime, how we were at home and needed to push more. Youíre going to have games like this throughout the season. It wasnít just one or two players, and we have to move on. In the end, it is important to be where we set our eyes in the beginning. This is a strong group. We need to get ready for the next match."
The two goals are the most allowed by the Fire in a match since a June 2nd 2-0 loss to the Revolution. And were enough to hand the Fire its first loss in a month.
The loss halted the Fire's four-game unbeaten streak. Chicago (8-6-4, 28 points) continues its home stretch on July 14, hosting Vancouver. The Galaxy (7-11-2, 23 pts) snapped a two-game losing streak.