Sunday, April 17, 2011Posted: 5:10 p.m. Updated: 6:38 p.m.
By Dieter Kurtenbach
No David Beckham? No Landon Donovan? That was no problem for the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Goals from Chad Barrett and Omar Gonzales lifted the injury-riddled Galaxy to a 2-1 win over the snakebitten Chicago Fire Sunday at Toyota Park, handing the Fire their third consecutive loss.
The Fire had two first-half chances to take advantage of the Galaxys second-string lineup, but breakaway opportunities from Gaston Puerari and Gonzalo Segares were both shot wide of the goal.
Its soccer this is football, Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said afterward. We are living a similar situation in different games. We are creating good options to score, and we didnt...this is soccer.
With the Galaxy locking down on the sidelines, the Fire attempted to play longball up the middle of the pitch. Relentless energy from Puerari and striking partner Diego Chaves resulted in a multitude of won balls, but lack of attacking support prevented other chances from developing.
The frustration from Fire winger Marco Pappa, who seemed to be taking on two or three Galaxy defenders at all times, was taken out on those same LA markers. Pappa was charged with two fouls in the game, all in the Fire attacking zone, and as the game progressed, the Fire midfielders body language became more and more anguished.
The missed opportunities came back to burn Chicago. In the 42nd minute, former Fire striker Chad Barrett found himself unmarked six yards from goal. The Fire defense was running an offside trap, moving forward on the play, but seemingly no one told Jalil Anibaba. The rookie defender maintained his position, allowing an unmarked Barrett to stay onside as a pass from Miguel Lopez found him.
Catching up with Chad Barrett
Barrett, who scored 17 goals in his three-year Fire career, had no problem finishing this go around. The score was Barretts first of the season and first with the Galaxy.
It felt real good, Barrett said. Not so much against one of my old clubs, it just felt good to score for my team, to help them get the win, and you know, get my first goal for the Galaxy.
Despite strong defensive play from the Galaxy, the Fire continued to create quick-strike opportunities. In the 65th minute, a corner kick from Los Angeles required a bicycle-kick clear from Segares. The clear sprung Chaves on the counter attack, but a collapsing Galaxy defense forced an early shot that went wide.
Seconds after Fire coach Carlos de los Cobos used his final substitution of the game, running a forward switch by replacing Puerari with Orr Barouch, Fire defender Cory Gibbs had to be helped off the field with a thigh injury. The Galaxy forced a corner kick on the next possession. The Fire, a man down, were unable to mark up a full Galaxy attack, and Gonzales, the six-foot-four defender, put home clean header to take advantage. The goal was the first of the season for Gonzalez, the 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year.
Gibbs did not return to the game and his injury will be re-evaluated Monday.
Even with Gibbs out, the Fire committed more players to the attack, looking to make a game of it late, but a 10-man squad had a hard time breaking the Galaxy defense. Pappa, who had a late, hope-giving goal Thursday night in Portland, had two shot attempts in the final 10 minutes, both sailing wide of goal and both earning dramatic reactions from the Guatemalan playmaker.
But life was restored to the Fire in the 89th minute, when Dominic Oduro freed himself form his marker and blasted a shot from a tight angle past Galaxy goaltender Donovan Ricketts.
A minute later, a corner kick pulled Fire goaltender Jon Conway out of his net and into the Galaxy box. The tactic did not pay off, as the Galaxy cleared, but were unable to muster a shot on the vacant Fire net.
The Fire had chances for two more corner kicks in stoppage time, and despite Conway playing up on each stoppage, neither play found the equalizing goal.
Still, de los Cobos was enthused by his teams resolve after going down a man.
I like the personality of the team to try to return to the game, de los Cobos said. The team dont surrender. The players fight, and even with a less player, the team created some options. We were very close to a tie...I dont have nothing to complain to my players, because they are putting 100 percent on the field. I have the responsibility, all the responsibility of the team, of what is happening on the field.
Even with ten players, we take out the savage side of us, Chaves said. We just wanted so bad to tie the game...That pressure, even with ten men was I know that they felt it.
Conway, who started his first game of the year, spelling Sean Johnson, made one save in the game. After the game, de los Cobos said that he will continue to start Conway. Johnson surrendered four goals against Portland in the Fires 4-2 loss on Thursday.
Sean is not living a good moment, de los Cobos said. Before the start of the season, we think of this possible situation... for that reason we brought in Jon Conway. Conway is still playing. I dont know how long, how many games more... but for now, Jonny looks to play in the next game.
The Fires next chance to get of the schnide will be Saturday night, when they host the Houston Dynamo at Toyota Park.