September 2, 2012
IN A GOOD SPOT
This year, Fire feel in control of their own playoff destiny
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. With a 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo that moved them from sixth into third place in the tightly-packed MLS East, the Chicago Fire feel like they are in a good spot and can control their own destiny.
|Alex’s stoppage-time goal capped Sunday’s important 3-1 win over Seattle.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
“We talked about putting ourselves in a position to control our own destiny," said Fire coach Frank Klopas after Sunday's big win at Toyota Park. "We had five, now four, games at home and I think that we put ourselves in a position where we’re in the game and you have to be able to win the game and be in the fight.
"Last year it was a different situation, we were playing catch-up. Right now we’re in a good spot; we’re in a good spot because we don’t have to rely on other teams. We have to worry about ourselves. We need to keep going and keep working hard because we can’t get comfortable and relaxed."
Early goals by Patrick Nyarko and Dan Paladini gave the Fire enough of a cushion to hold off a late goal by Houston substitute Brian Ching. Brazilian midfielder Alex came off the bench to cap Chicago’s scoring in the third minute of stoppage time.
Seconds into the match, Nyarko pounced on Andre Hainault’s pass in the backfield, blew past defender Jermaine Taylor into the box and slotted a low shot past netminder Tally Hall to put the Fire up 1-0.
“The defensive mentality after the early goal was fantastic," said goalkeeper Sean Johnson. "We’re very hard to beat when we score first. I don’t even know if we’ve lost a game after scoring first. It’s very big, especially at home. We’re a very tough team to play against once we’ve scored a goal. We knew once we scored, we weren’t going to lose that game and it has to be our mentality."
Paladini padded the Fire lead when Sherjill MacDonald found him wide open seven yards from goal. Once again, the play started with a Houston error, when Alvaro Fernandez forced a turnover near midfield and fed the ball to MacDonald down the right side.
As the clock wound down toward stoppage time, the Dynamo attacked with renewed energy, and finally spoiled Johnson’s clean sheet. Seconds after the Fire netminder dove to turn away Je-Vaughn Watson’s point-blank volley, Brian Ching got position on his defender and a knee on Davis’s corner kick to put the Dynamo on the board.
"“I mean, it’s nervous, no? I mean, the last five minutes, all you do is pray," said Klopas of giving up the late goal.
"We play a team that’s obviously very good in situations like that. [Brad] Davis is a guy that, other than Beckham, is probably one of the best that I’ve seen at serving balls. And they have quality players so you got to limit those opportunities that you give them, and we gave up a late goal."
Alex gave Chicago the last word, however, stunning Hall with a long shot off the woodwork and into the net in the third minute of stoppage time.
"I think they pushed the game and we caught them on the counter and we finished the game off," Klopas concluded. "But I think we need to finish games better.”