Fire veteran and Chicago area native Brian McBride played his 200th MLS game in Bridgeview, Illinois last night. Another hometown player Baggio Husidic scored in the 52nd minute for the Fire and Maicon Santos answered in the 76th minute to level the score and send Chivas USA back to California with a draw. Chivas could be very well pleased with its point on the road having come to Toyota Park to face a Fire squad hoping to make it three wins in a row and three clean sheets in a row for keeper Andrew Dykstra.
For 75 minutes it appeared that the Fire and Dykstra would make their mark but a spectacular individual effort by Santos from a Sacha Kljestan corner kick would end those hopes. There was little Dykstra could do as the ball was placed into the upper corner of the net by a high flying Santos. The Husidic score was also something to admire as he put the ball into the net after being given an open opportunity after great ball movement by his teammates and an assist from Patrick Nyarko. Nyarko had several good runs along the flank during the match and was the Fire’s man of the match as their only real offensive threat. He had a great individual run late in the game that was stopped by former Fire keeper Zach Thornton to keep the score level and send the crowd home with that missing feeling that comes from a draw at home.
The missing feeling was apparent early on with Collins John out with a pre-game injury, the Fire missing Polish defender Krzysztof Krol due to a red card, Logan Pause still out from an early season injury, and then midfielder Justin Mapp going out with an injury in the 22nd minute. The Fire clearly where under manned and upon reflection have to be happy with the point before now facing their next two matches on the road at Toronto and Kansas City. Brain McBride having to play almost the full ninety minutes last night is something the Fire cannot afford to do.
The men in red will soon break their MLS schedule to play in the first ever Chicago Sister Cities Tournament over the weekend of May 22 featuring teams from Chicago’s sister cities of Paris, Belgrade, and Warsaw and then host Italian powerhouse AC Milan at Toyota park on May the 30th. The end of May seems a strange time to host a number of friendlies but I suspect that the World Cup forces a good number of schedule changes. While these events are money makers for the teams and give the American fans a view of top European clubs in person, they are hardly “A” team events for both sides. Let’s just hope no one gets hurt.
The most noteworthy event at Toyota Park last night was the large banner that went up from a group of fans who want a MLS team in Detroit. The loyal Chicago crowd of over 13,000 fans responded with the famous hockey chant used frequently by Chicago Blackhawk fans that Detroit sucks. It was good to see the quick reaction from the Chicago faithful. It was also good to see that the Motor City wants MLS action in their town.
The Fire are playing well as they move into May but having a 2-2-2 record on May 1, leaves them seven points behind the surprise early season leader New York Red Bulls. The Red Bulls strength of schedule has been a big factor in the Red Bulls early run, but the Columbus Crew as always will be a factor in the Eastern conference and are in second place currently. The road is not the place to make up a lot of points and given the World Cup break in June the home stand before the break with Dallas and Philadelphia coming to Bridgeview can well determine what kind of summer it will be for Chicago fans.
Food choice: Italian Sausage, with onions and peppers. Excellent for a stadium sausage.