For the second week in a row the Chicago Fire played in cold and wet conditions. In what was a good game for the national TV audience on Fox Soccer Channel to watch, the wet conditions lead to some wild play that ended in a 2-2 draw.
A Julio Martinez goal from an outstanding cross by Marco Pappa gave the Fire an early 1-0 lead at the 14th minute mark which became the only goal of the first half. With the play being more and more affected by the rain, the action became sloppy but entertaining. The Wizards had their chances in the first half but missed more than one opportunity when a goal seemed assured, including an open chance by Kei Kamara. KC throughout the game was willing to take a shot at the net no matter what the distance. The Fire defense seemed unsure of themselves at times during the game, with the absence of Tim Ward due to injury appearing to be a factor. The Fire continued with their controlled passing game despite the rain and did have their chances as a result in both halves.
The rain seemed to let up a bit at the start of the second half and the Fire changed things up with Brian McBride coming on for Collins John and Mike Banner coming on for Julio Martinez, who had an injury in the first half. The Fire took a 2-0 lead early in the second half when Patrick Nyarko found Brian McBride free in front of the net and McBride did what he does best putting the ball into the net. The lead did not stay 2-0 long when Kei Kamara received a lead from Ryan Smith in the 50th minute who pivoted and turned with a blast that went past an out of position Fire net minder Andrew Dykstra for his fourth score of the season.
After that it became the Ryan Smith and Andrew Dykstra show. The midfielder had a number of excellent chances that lead to exceptional saves by Andrew Dykstra. It appeared that the Fire had weathered the storm and missed on their own chances as the game moved toward the ninety minute mark. Then just when the Fire started counting their three points Wizard midfielder Teal Bunbury made an brilliant drive through the left side of the Fire defense to blast a shot that Andrew Dykstra saved but was in no position to then stop the open rebound shot by Kei Kamara who notched his second goal of the night and his 5th of the season in the 89th minute. It ended that way for the Fire who picked up their ninth point of the season, but clearly having dropped a chance for a big win on the road.
While the Wizards had the better of play for most of this match the fact is the Fire had a 2-0 lead and a 2-1 lead in the 89th minute. The loss of three points at KC is a major setback. With the draw the Fire have only two wins on the season and the nine points are a disappointment. The defense which looked sound after two clean sheets last month gave up six goals on the two game road trip. The World Cup break cannot come soon enough for a Chicago team that needs help.
The Fire have attempted to fill a gap in their media coverage by having their TV announcer Dan Kelly provide an English radio broadcast of games over the Ustream internet site. Kelly will give a play by play and take listeners questions submitted over the net during the broadcasts. When the local crew is doing a TV broadcast the TV audio will be aired over Ustream. It’s not local over the air radio yet, but it is close.
The Fire will open the first ever Sister Cities tournament at Toyota Park on May 19 when they face Paris SG in the opening game. Legia Warsaw will face Red star Belgrade in the second match on the 19th. The winners will face off on May 22 in the Championship game while the losers meet in a consolation game beforehand.
AC Milan will be visiting Toyota Park on May 30, 2010. The AC Milan squad will feature both Pato and Ronaldinho who will not be going to South Africa for the World Cup. The game will be shown live on Fox Soccer Channel to American viewers.