September 22, 2012
Kathryn L. Knapp
Fire earns 2-1 win over Columbus
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chicago continues to dominate opponents en route to the postseason. Saturday night, Chris Rolfe tallied two goals, leading the home team to a 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew. The Fire pull to within two points of Eastern Conference leaders Kansas City and are now 4-0-0 in the month of September.
|Chris Rolfe fueled the Fire's comeback against Columbus with two goals in three minutes.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
“It was another great win for our team,” Fire head coach Frank Klopas said. “It was a very good start to the game. We made a mistake and gave up a goal. In games you’re going to make mistakes. We responded well.”
The Fire attack started in the early minutes of Saturday’s match. Alex blasted a shot on goal in the third minute, skimming the ball off the crossbar and out. Rolfe had a dangerous opportunity in the 11th, positioning himself directly in front of the net, but the ball didn’t quite make it there. Arne Friedrich headed another attempt on target in the 13th minute, but to no avail.
In the 15th minute, it was the visiting Crew who took charge. Crew forward Jairo Arrieta drilled the ball into the lower right corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Fire came back to life in the 23rd minute. Rolfe broke free and sprinted toward goal. Sherjill MacDonald crossed the ball into the box, where Rolfe caught up with it. Rolfe ran to the top of the box and sent a left-footed shot into the net, knotting things up at 1-1.
Chicago struck again three minutes later. Patrick Nyarko ran toward goal, guarded heavily by a wall of gold. Nyarko sent a short pass to Rolfe who lifted the ball over the defenders and goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum and into the net for a 2-1 lead.
“We have found our groove these past few weeks,” Nyarko said. “Going down a goal doesn’t phase us. It’s a 90-minute game. With the ability we have, we know we’re going to get chances.”
The Crew didn’t sit back. In the 43rd minute, Chad Marshall shot the ball toward goal. Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson grabbed it for the save. Eddie Gaven sent a cross into the box just before the half, but it was headed out of harm’s way, as the Fire held on to a 2-1 lead.
In the second half the fireworks kept exploding. A Fire push to goal in the 62nd minute nearly ended in a goal as Alvaro Fernandez headed it over the top of the net and out. The Crew’s Josh Williams rocketed an attempt toward goal in the 79th minute. Johnson knocked it out for a corner kick. Johnson grabbed a follow-up attempt as well.
Columbus kept pressure on for the remainder of the match. A late rally in the 88th minute saw Justin Meram and Tony Tchani send quality shots at goal for the Crew. Chicago’s defense stood strong, blocking the attempts. Johnson received a yellow in the 89th minute for delay of game.
Johnson earned five saves on the night. He said the team’s success is due to everyone buying into the same mentality.
“It’s just the mentality we have and believing,” Johnson said. “We believe we’re going to come out with three points at the end of the night. It’s important to stay together.”
With the win, the Fire (16-8-5, 53 points) close to within two points of Sporting Kansas City at the top of the MLS East. Chicago continues to improve on its nearly perfect September with a 4-0-0 record, while outscoring opponents 10-4. The Crew (13-11-6, 45 points) are still searching for a playoff spot.