Late Game Heroics Help 10-Man Chicago Fire Down Chivas USA 3-2
CHICAGO, Ill. (Sept. 17, 2011) - The Chicago Fire (5-8-15, 30 points) ran out to a 2-0 lead inside 26 minutes before a Cory Gibbs red card and two Chivas goals in as many minutes set the scene as Dominic Oduro's dramatic 85th minute game winner earned the Fire a 3-2 victory over Chivas USA Saturday afternoon at Toyota Park. The Fire remain unbeaten against Chivas USA in the last seven regular season meetings, going 5-0-2 since 2008.
The scoring started early with Argentine Sebastian Grazzini sent in a free kick from the right, picking out Fire defender Cory Gibbs at the back post. Gibbs outmuscled Michael Umana to head the ball past Dan Kennedy in the second minute. It was the U.S. Internationals third goal of the season.
The Fire continued to take advantage of set piece opportunities to double their lead in the 26th minute. Thirty yards from goal, midfielder Pavel Pardo swung in a whipping free kick from the left which dipped down before Chivas striker Juan Pablo Angel headed past Kennedy to give the Fire a 2-0 lead.
The scope of the match would change dramatically nine minutes later as Chivas USA's Michael Lahoud stepped to the ball at midfield an onrushing Gibbs came in to clip the Chivas defender. Referee Jorge Gonzalez didn't hesitate to show the veteran defender a red card for the foul in the 37th minute, forcing the Fire to play down a man for the remaining 53 minutes of play.
Needing to cut into a two-goal disadvantage, Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser brought on Blair Gavin and Mariano Trujillo to stabilize the attack at the beginning of the second interval.
The visitors nearly cut the lead in half eight minutes into the second stanza as a ball out of the back put Fire defender Josip Mikulic in a footrace with Angel. The Colombian striker bested Mikulic, walking in alone on goal before firing a low shot that Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson dove to his left to save in the 53rd minute.
Despite being down a man, the Fire nearly took a three-goal lead in the 57th minute as Dominic Oduro picked up a loose ball at midfield and drove towards the Chivas goal. The Ghanaian striker put Chivas defender Zarek Valentin on the back foot before blasting an effort that Kennedy dove to his right to save. Patrick Nyarko collected the rebound on the left and went to the end line before blasting an acutely angled shot that Kennedy parried to his left.
Angel would make up for his own goal and early second half miss in the 61st minute when Chivas striker Justin Braun slid a through ball for Trujillo on the right. The second half substitute played a low, pin-point pass to the penalty spot where Angel cut back before tucking a one-time effort inside Johnson's left post, pulling the visitors within a goal.
Things looked disastrous for the Fire two minutes later when a Marcos Mondaini corner kick from the left found Valentin at the back post. The defender played a ball off of Oduro which then fell to Nick LaBrocca who chipped his effort over Johnson to pull things level in the 63rd minute.
Chivas nearly went ahead in the 72nd minute as LaBrocca played a perfect ball over the top and into the path of Courtois down the right. The French midfielder settled and played a ball across the box where a desperation slide from Mikulic caused the ball to go off Angel forcing another diving save to the left from Johnson to keep things level at 2-2.
Oduro nearly but the Fire back in the lead three minutes later as he checked back into midfield to pick up a misplayed ball. The fleet Ghanaian attacker rolled past two Chivas defenders, and managed to stay on his feet after a desperate challenge from Michael Umana, but the tackle was enough to throw him off stride and out of angle as he put a low effort wide right of Kennedy's goal.
Oduro, the Fire's 2011 leading goal scorer made double digit goals a reality in the 85th minute when he put home his career best 10th goal of the campaign. Fellow Ghanaian Nyarko began a combination play down the left with substitute striker Diego Chaves. The Uruguayan slid Nyarko into the 18 before the speedy forward played a simple pass across the box for Oduro who finished with an easy tap-in past Kennedy to give the Fire all three points.
The Fire have a full week of training before embarking on their march to the U.S. Open Cup Final, a daunting four matches in 10 days. The Fire kick off the march to the cup by hosting the New England Revolution at Toyota Park on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 3:00 p.m. CT (CSN - Tape Delay - 7:30 p.m. CT kickoff). Tickets are available by calling 1-888-MLS-FIRE (657-3473), or by heading to the club's official website at Chicago-Fire.com.
Dominic Oduro's 85th minute winner was his 10th regular season goal. With the strike, Oduro becomes the first Fire player since Damani Ralph in 2004 to tally double digit goals for the club.
Cory Gibbs goal in the 2nd minute was the fourth of his MLS career and third of the season. The veteran defender will have to sit out next Sunday's match against his former team, the New England Revolution after picking up a red card in the 37th minute.
Goal scorers in today's match, both Oduro and Chivas USA midfielder Nick LaBrocca tallied for their respective teams in their previous meeting, a 1-1 draw on July 2 at The Home Depot Center
Patrick Nyarko added to his team lead in assists, recording his seventh of the season on Oduro's 85th minute game winner.
Chicago Fire Home Grown player Victor Pineda appeared in the club's 18-man lineup for the first time in his career but did not see any action in the match.
The Fire were without defender Dan Gargan who was serving a one-match ban for yellow card accumulation.
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