Fire Falls 2-1 to Galaxy
By Kim Bellware in News on Apr 18, 2011 7:40PM
A series of easy mistakes and minor breakdowns led to the Chicago Fire's 2-1 loss to the L.A. Galaxy Sunday at Toyota Park. Despite lacking in their usual star power, the Los Angeles (3-1-1) squad was able to capitalize on the Fire's errors, netting two goals before Chicago (1-1-3) made it to the board.
Galaxy heavyweights, midfielders Juninho and David Beckham were both out serving suspensions, while the team's captain, forward Landon Donovan, was on the injury list with an inflamed knee.
The Fire missed their first big opportunity in the 18th minute when forward Gaston Puerari broke through the Galaxy's defense, sending his shot wide of the goal after a one-one-one with opposing goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
The squad maintained enough of its momentum to strike again in the 28th minute, this time powered by Fire defender Gonzalo Segares. After slipping behind the Galaxy's defense, Segares challenged Ricketts in another one-on-one, only to send his shot low and like Puerari's, wide of the goal.
Post-game a disappointed Segares told reporters “I don’t get a 1-v-1 with the goalkeeper that often. I wish I could get it back.”
Chicago gamely held their play together until communication in the defense broke down around the 42nd minute, opening a scoring opportunity for the Galaxy. On a cross from his teammate, an unmarked Chad Barret took a shot from 10 yards out near the penalty mark to put LA up 1-0.
After the half, Chicago still struggled to establish a rhythm, though they were able to keep the play mostly at center field as both sides looked for another scoring opportunity. Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens was called for a reckless foul in the 63rd minute giving the Fire a much-needed advantage.
When the Fire couldn't capitalize on the play, LA's squad saw a turnover, leading Omar Gonzalez to score a header off of a corner kick from striker Miguel Lopez, doubling LA's lead in the 72d minute.
Play grew increasingly rough after the second goal, with both teams earning fouls. The third yellow card for LA (and 4th of the game) was issued shortly after Gonzalez's goal when defender Frankie Hejduk recklessly tackled Fire striker Dominic Oduro.
Having subbed in after the half for Michael Videira, Oduro's fresh legs quickened the pace of the Fire's play as they went on the dominate the next segment of the match. With the Fire finally hitting its stride as time wound down, Oduro beat LA's defense on the right wing before taking the ball to the center of the box. Odum lasered a shot past Ricketts for Chicago's first goal of the match (and Odum's first for the team).
Energized by the 89th minute goal, the Fire looked as if they might eke out a draw as Marco Papa tore through the midfield for a quick re-attack on the Galaxy. The Fire gained possession quickly after LA's kickoff, but ultimately failed to find the back of the net before the end of play. Oduro pulled the last foul of the game in stoppage time, with the clock winding down shortly after.
After the game, Fire coach Carlos de los Cobos said the team needed to create more good options to score. "We didn't," said de los Cobos. "This is soccer. It was a difficult match for both teams. We created some options, but we didn't score [from them]."
Despite dropping their third match of the season, de los Cobos was optimistic.
"The team doesn't surrender," he said. "The team fights. We were close to a tie. I have nothing to complain of [my players] because they gave it 100 percent."
The Fire's next match is Saturday, April 23 v the Houston Dynamo, 7:30 p.m. Toyota Park,