Finally in the 86th minute often injured Calen Carr put a shot in from the top of the box past Matt Reis for his first goal of the campaign. To his credit Carr gave praise to Freddie Ljungberg for finding him prior to his run for the winning goal. The last few minutes of the game saw a frantic New England team using hard play to get an equalizer. Despite the increased physical nature of the game which continued past the final whistle the Revs went home the loser. Chicago had a badly needed three points before the weekend trip to Texas to face the Dynamo in Houston.
The Fire did what was needed. A defeat may well have proved fatal to their playoff chances. Even with the win they are still looking up at three teams in the Eastern Conference. The weekend sees them in Houston and then the following week it’s off to Seattle where the great Seattle fans are already waiting for the return of Freddie Ljungberg. Ljungberg has clearly made an impact on the offense and has given the rest of the team the freedom to roam the field as defenses seem to concentrate on him with or without the ball. He especially seems to work well with fellow EPL alumni Brain McBride and the veteran forward appears to have the step and leap back in his game after Ljungbergs arrival in the Windy City. Nery Castillo has to find himself with this squad for the Fire to be successful on the road trip ahead. One would have to think that Castillo must play a large part if the Fire are to come home with six points.
Ultimately in all sports it is defense that wins titles. While the front office must receive credit for Chicago’s recent upswing, the development of rookie keeper Sean Johnson has to be considered the key to Chicago’s recent success. Yes, he has made great saves but so did Andrew Dkystra earlier in the season. What was lacking was the field leadership from the net after the Fire released Jon Busch before the season started. It is remarkable the maturity and knowledge of the game that Johnson has shown in his very first year in the league. When the Fire returns to Chicago summer will be at it’s end, but it looks like Toyota Park will be host to a hot team this fall.