September 29, 2012
ONE GAME AT A TIME
Fire won’t dwell on loss to KC
KANSAS CITY, Kansas—The Chicago Fire aren’t overly concerned that their four-game winning streak ended on Friday night with a 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park.
|“We have to learn from this game but it’s ok to lose sometimes,” said Fire defender Arne Friedrich. “We shouldn’t be scared going into the playoffs. We have to be confident.”
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
“Of course, it was an important game,” said Fire head coach Frank Klopas. ”They all are, but we don’t want to think ahead of ourselves. We take one game at a time. Yes, this was an important game, but it’s over now and we obviously need to learn from it. We have got to make sure that what we feel right now stays with us tonight, but tomorrow is a new day and there is a new team coming. We need to refocus, regroup, and get ready for the next match.”
Graham Zusi scored both goals as Sporting Kansas City (17-7-7, 58 pts) sewed up a spot in the MLS postseason and closed to within two points of Supporters’ Shield leaders San Jose.
Zusi put Sporting on the board in the 11th minute, after an explosive play by Kei Kamara. Kamara got the ball just inside midfield, spun past defender Gonzalo Segares and brought the ball into the right side of the area before squaring it into the center of the box. Zusi darted in and one-touched a sharp 10-yard shot into the net to stake KC to a 1-0 lead.
The 1-0 score held well into stoppage time. After Segares collected his second yellow card of the match and was sent off in the third extra minute, however, Zusi took advantage of the shorthanded Chicago defense and beat goalkeeper Sean Johnson to the right side from the top of the box.
“I guess it was our mistake that we lost,” said Fire defender Arne Friedrich. “We dropped too deep as a team in the first half and we had too much respect for them. I don’t know why -- we played well the past few weeks and we are a very good team. In the second half we changed our attitude and strategy. We were more offensive and our play was completely different. In my eyes the problem today was the first half and it was too late in the second half. We have to learn from this game but it’s ok to lose sometimes. We shouldn’t be scared going into the playoffs. We have to be confident.”
Sporting dictated the tone of the game from the opening whistle, but the Fire came up with the first solid scoring chance. In the sixth minute, Segares forced a turnover deep in the Fire end and launched a long ball for Sherjill MacDonald, who was making a run down the right side. MacDonald beat his defender to the ball and cut inside to make space, but instead of taking a shot dished left to Chris Rolfe, whose low shot rolled just wide of the right post.
“I think the opportunities at this point in the season are few,” said Klopas.” Obviously, we had that one great opportunity at the start, and if we had put that in, it could have changed the game. They are pushing up and now they’re chasing the game instead of the other way around. It’s difficult when you’re on the road and you’re chasing the game. You have to push to get open and take risks to move forward.”
Sporting netminder Jimmy Nielsen needed only one save, on a header by Segares in the 68th minute, to post his league-leading 14th shutout of the season.
The Fire (16-9-5, 53 pts) snapped their longest winning streak in seven years at four games, and suffered their first road loss in Kansas City since 2007.