Recap: Crew vs. Fire
The Chicago Fire celebrated their 13th birthday in style Friday night, getting goals from Peter Lowry and Brian McBride to defeat a listless Columbus Crew side 2-0 in front of 15,124 hopeful fans on an unseasonably warm night at Toyota Park.
The win keeps Chicago’s slim playoff hopes alive – at least for another day. The 10th place Fire are now eight points behind San Jose for the eighth and final playoff spot with three games to go. Chicago will be eliminated from postseason contention if the Earthquakes win and Colorado tie or win on Saturday.
The loss keeps the Crew in second place in the East, one point behind the New York Red Bulls with just two games to go.
Lowry put the Fire ahead in the 30th minute. Right back Steven Kinney played a ball to a checking Patrick Nyarko on the right side. Nyarko flicked the ball towards the middle, finding Lowry in stride just outside the box. The third-year midfielder did the rest, taking a touch inside to leave Columbus defender Chad Marshall in the dust before curling a 14-yard shot inside the far post with the outside of his right foot to mark the 600th goal in club history.
Marco Pappa nearly doubled the Fire’s advantage in
the 41st minute. The Guatemalan winger intercepted Crew center back Eric Brunner’s lazy pass on the left wing and took off, dribbling into the middle and eventually rolling a 15-yard shot off the far post from just left of center.
McBride doubled the advantage with a well worked goal in the 53rd. Nyarko assisted again, picking up Freddie Ljungberg’s ball just outside the right edge of the box before slamming a low cross to McBride at the near post. The three-time World Cup vet – who has just three regular season games left in his career – finished beautifully, opening his hips before hitting a left-footed shot into the top left corner with his first touch.
Columbus, unwilling to return home scoreless, stepped on the gas after McBride’s tally. The Crew registered numerous chances in the game’s final 35 minutes, but couldn’t quite finish.
Fire keeper Andrew Dykstra, filling in for injured starter Sean Johnson, came up with several big saves, denying hard shots from Frankie Hejduk and Brian Carroll in the 66th and 72nd minutes, respectively.
But the Crew’s best chance to pull one back came in the 90th. Second half substitute Kevin Burns broke free in the left side of the box and shot around a drawn-out Dykstra only to have his rolling left-footer cleared off the line by Chicago left back Bratislav Ristic.
Chicago will play Kansas City in their next match, hosting the Wizards on Tuesday night. Columbus has a longer layoff; they’ll take on Toronto FC at BMO Field next Saturday.
CHI -- Peter Lowry 2 (Patrick Nyarko 9, Steven Kinney 1) 30
CHI -- Brian McBride 5 (Patrick Nyarko 10, Freddie Ljungberg 5) 53
CLB -- Adam Moffat (caution; Tactical Foul) 25
CLB -- Eric Brunner (caution; Tactical Foul) 37
CHI -- Steven Kinney (caution; Reckless Foul) 41
CHI -- C.J. Brown (caution; Reckless Tackle) 58
CHI -- Peter Lowry (caution; Reckless Tackle) 88
Columbus Crew -- William Hesmer, Frankie Hejduk, Chad Marshall, Eric Brunner, Gino Padula, Adam Moffat (Kevin Burns 46), Brian Carroll, Eddie Gaven (Emmanuel Ekpo 62), Andres Mendoza (Steven Lenhart 80), Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Robbie Rogers.
Chicago Fire -- Andrew Dykstra, Bratislav Ristic, C.J. Brown, Dasan Robinson (Kwame Watson-Siriboe 15), Steven Kinney, Patrick Nyarko (Calen Carr 77), Logan Pause, Peter Lowry, Marco Pappa (Baggio Husidic 83), Freddie Ljungberg, Brian McBride.
Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry; C.J. Morgante
4th Official: Michael Kennedy
Weather: Clear and 70 degrees