May 23, 2012
Johnson pk save inspires Fire
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill---Sean Johnson came up with a big save on a penalty kick, Marco Pappa scored on a controversial rebound of one and just like that, the Chicago Fire captured the Brimstone Cup with a 2-1 win over FC Dallas at Toyota Park Wednesday night.
“Obviously just a great win for our club,” said Fire coach Frank Klopas.” I thought it was important for us being at home and coming out with a lot of energy from the beginning. We pressed higher up the field instead of waiting and going a goal down, and then starting to play. “
The Fire improve to 5-3-3, 18 pts, while FC Dallas falls to 3-7-4, 13.
In a fairly evenly played match, the Hoops took the lead just before halftime, when Blas Perez headed a corner kick on goal that Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson punched away. The ball didn't travel very far, however, and FCD rookie Matt Hedges was right there to head the ball into the net in the 41st minute.
We gave up that goal, but we had a good response from the group. It’s just a huge win. We scored from behind again which shows a lot of character for the group.
Less than five minutes after going down 1-0, the Fire took one back. Marco Pappa controlled a turnover near midfield and sent the ball up to Sebastian Grazzini. Grazzini maneuvered near the top of the penalty arc and fired a left footed shot into the upper left corner of the net.
Sebastián scored a fantastic goal-a world class goal. Those are the type of goals that he can score with his ability. I felt that the group was positive and that the goal lifted us going into halftime.”
The Fire's game winner came in the 63rd minute, after Carlos Rodriguez fouled Pappa in the area. Grazzini took the penalty kick, but FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman guessed correctly and stopped the shot. Pappa charged in and put the rebound into the net. Dallas protested that Pappa was already moving into the box when the kick was taken, but to no avail.
Johnson also came up with a big penalty kick stop. In the 50th minute, Domenic Oduro was called for a foul after making contact with FC Dallas's Bruno Guarda in the box. Perez took a perfectly placed penalty kick that looked like it was heading for inside the left post, but Johnson stretched his full 6'4" frame across the mouth of the goal to make the stop.
“Most importantly the save was big for the team at that point in the game to help turn things around,” said Johnson “ There was a spell there where they were putting a lot of pressure on us – they got the ball into a deep spot and we gave up the foul, which was unfortunate. We needed that stop to keep sp in the game – it’s all about making crucial saves in the game when we need them. “
Pappa said Johnson’s save provide some extra motivation for the team, who have had a tendency to go down and then comeback.
“After the first half when we came into the locker room we talked about how we needed to push ourselves more in the game,” said Pappa. “ We knew we had to give a better effort in the second half of the game. We had some extra motivation after Sean’s [Johnson] penalty kick save.”