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Chicago Fire


March 27, 2010
De los Cobos: Better to lose pretty than win ugly

by Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Wilman Conde blocks Juan Pablo Angel's shot in the 57th minute of Saturday's match.
Wilman Conde blocks Juan Pablo Angel's shot in the 57th minute of Saturday's match.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
HARRISON, NJ---Chicago Fire coach Carlos de los Cobos has an interesting philosophy of soccer. It’s better to play pretty than to win.

The Fire put on a ball-possessing attacking show in their 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls at the regular season opening of the Red Bull Arena, but it’s only wins and losses that count in the standings.

“We’re disappointed in the result,” said de los Cobos. “But I was not disappointed in the players.”

Despite controlling the run of play for most of the early going, the Fire failed to finish, conceding the only goal of the game in the 40th minute, when Joel Lindpere pounced on a ball outside the penalty area and blasted a rising shot over Fire goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra.

“The ball sat perfectly for the guy,” said Dykstra of the goal. “He kind of caught it on the volley so it went up, down and in the net.”

Dykstra was making his first MLS start after the team waived veteran Jon Busch earlier this week.

“Sometimes it is better to lose the way we did tonight, than it is to win badly,” said de los Cobos.

“The good thing is, it looks like we have a way of playing together,” he said. “It’s not a matter of who deserves it,” he said of the Fire outshooting New York 17-11, “but who takes advantage of the chances."

Despite having a number of new options, de los Cobos went largely with a veteran starting team, with midfielder Julio Martinez the only player in the starting eleven that was not with the club last season.

After coaching the El Salvador national team, de los Cobos is settling into the groove of coaching a club team.

“With the national team, you have a wider selection of players available. But with a club, you have much more time with a team. You can introduce an idea and have it take root.”

Patrick Nyarko and Brian McBride made trouble for New York throughout the game. It was McBride who almost christened MLS’s newest stadium with the first goal, in the 23rd minute. Red Bulls netminder Bouna Condoul came out to head away a long ball, but the clearance did not go far, before McBride was able to get to it and bicycle kick a shot from just outside the penalty area that hit the left goalpost.

“It came to me, I trapped it, I knew the goalie was off his line,” said Mc Bride. “I wanted to try and take it as early as possible. Unfortunately, it spun when it bounced and it didn’t go in.” McBride had three shots in the game, while speedy Patrick Nyarko had four. He pressed the New York defense, especially in the first half, making runs down the right side and combining with Martinez and McBride.

Chicago forced New York goalkeeper Coundoul to make eight saves, all in the second half. Their best chance came on a long free kick by Mike Banner in the 62nd minute. Banner got a good piece of the ball, sending it over the wall, and forcing Coundoul to dive to make the stop, then cover up the ball on a shot by Collins John.

Chicago kept pressing the attack, coming close twice in the last few minutes of the game. A shot by Nyarko in the 79th was picked out of the air by Coundoul, who also stopped an 88th minute shot by John and a stoppage time attempt by Banner.

Even with McBride and Nyarko peppering the New York goal with shots, it was Wilman Conde who could have been the player of the game. The Colombian defender broke up a couple of New York chances early in the game. In the 57th minute, he made a sliding block on a shot by Juan Pablo Angel. Less than a minute later, he stopped a shot by Macoumba Kandji, keeping the Fire in the game.

“Chicago surprised me,” said Red Bulls coach Hans Backe, who, like de los Cobos made his MLS debut on Saturday. “The way they started to play from behind, perhaps because the Mexican coach,” he said of the Fire’s attack, which stresses ball control and moving the ball. “They all the time try for the goalie just to come to the back four and they were a technically good side. I was surprised, I must say."
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