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Soccer Sat Sep 04 2010

Fire vs. LA Galaxy Liveblog from Toyota Park

Sup peoples. I'm sitting in the press box here in Toyota Park, where for some reason, a whole bunch of fireworks just went off - only 70 minutes before kick off. I'll be back with some preview/hype stuff, but for now dig Jordan Brown's adventures watching the Fire and the video highlights of the last match between these two teams (above).

Right then, Section 8 is doin their thing over to my left, and the lineups are out:

2:48 For the Fire: Johnson (GK), Kinney, Brown, Conde, Segares (D), Nyarko, Thorrington, Pause, Banner (M), Castillo and captain/retiring hero McBride (F). The major absences are Freddie Ljungberg (suspension) and Marco Pappa (international duty for Guatemala). It's interesting that Carlos de los Cobos opted to start Collins John and Baggio Husidic on the bench.

For LA: Ricketts (GK), Franklin, Gonzalez, Lenoardo, Dunivant (D), Bowen, Kovalenko, Kirovski, Cazumba (M), Donovan - captain - and Buddle (F). No major absences for LA - who will get David Beckham back next week after his lengthy absence from achilles injury.

Ok the t-shirt canons are out! Ten minutes to kickoff. Feel free to send questions, thoughts, or nicknames for Donocan's giant forehead to

Here's my game preview at Chicagoist.

2:57 Jonathon Toews in the house! (He's sort of tiny in person.) (Don't tell him I said that.)

3:02 There's a giant cadre of HerbaLife people in the far corner of the stadium - it's weird because they're wearing the kind of blinding green shirt that the Seattle Sounders wear.

0 mins MOTIVATIONAL MUSIC! MOTIVATIONAL MUSIC! MOTIVATIONAL MUSIC! Pumped yet? Galaxy jumping around in white, the Fire in home red. Looks like Banner's going to start on the left, with Nyarko on the right - I wouldn't be surprised to see them switch arount hough as the game goes forward.

And, at long last, LA kick off. The Fire start off going towards the Party Deck.

1 min Nyarko's hacked down by Cazumba on the near side. McBride got some nice cheers for his first touch. Down the field, the Fire win a corner...

3 mins LA clear, but Castillo picks up and drives into the box. He goes down, but no PK.

5 mins LA linking up nicely in the midfield, but neither team looking particularly dangerous. That HerbaLife contigent I mentioned earlier? They're cheering hard for LA - probably get some kind of corporate benefit or t-shirt or something.

7 mins Donovan goes forward in his first notable appearance so far. He lays it off for Cazumba, but his shot - like Arizona Governer Jan Brewer's recent speech - is piss poor.

9 mins McBride plays in Nyarko after some great work in midfield by Castillo, but it's JUST too far and Ricketts cleans up.

12 mins Fire are enjoying a lot of possession, but it's the final ball they're missing.

14 mins LA win a corner after good work by Tristan Bowen right in front of the HerbaLife crew. The corner's swung in, but it misses everyone. Goal kick Chicago.

Tactical note: LA are lined up in a classic 4-4-2 with Donovan just next to/behind Buddle. The Fire have Nyarko and Banner outside of Castillo and McBride up top, with Thorringon and Pause doing the heavy lifting in the middle.

16 mins Cazumba goes one-on-one against Kinney, pulls up, plays a good cross in - and Buddle heads over. Buddle should've at least put that on goal.

19 mins Fire win a corner. Interesting subplot: Buddle and Conde going at it. These two definitely don't like each other. Nyarko tries to flick the corner on from the near post, but it goes into the side netting.

21 mins WHOA! Galaxy win a free kick far out from the side - Donovan swings it in and in the middle of the fracas Leonardo goes down. The ref pulls out an immediate straight red card for Segares and points to the spot. Leonardo is limping off now, but seems totally fine, and Donovan is doing his sort of annoying crouch-before-taking-PK thing.

22 minsIT'S BLOCKED! Great save low and to his left by Sean Johnson! Bowen gets a shot from the far side, but it's out for a goal kick. Like Jose Canseco in the 1990s, Toyota Park is juiced up and throbbing right now.

24 mins LA win a corner that comes to nothing.

26 mins Nyarko twists and turns brilliantly on the near side before breaking in right at the top of the LA box and laying it off for Thorrington who had all the shooting options in the world - he decides to hit it with the side of his foot, and it's hoofed over into the Party Deck. Looks like the Fire are riding the crowd's energy.

28 mins McBride gave the ball away on the near side and Buddle broke menacingly into the box. He juked half the Fire defense, laied it off for Donovan who had an open goal - but McBride comes sliding in to save the day. Great hustle and covering by the captain, who really shouldn't have given the ball away to begin with.

Coming down the pitch, Kovalenko and Thorrington exchange shoves and swear words after Dema's vicious 2 footed tackle is ignored by the ref.

32 mins 10 man Fire are doing fine, so far. Nyarko especially seems to be enjoying himself - he charges through the midfield and plays in Castillo but the near side ref's assistant raises his flag for offside. That was a harsh call. Meanwhile tackles are flying in alllll over the place from both teams. This is not the game to go into tackles halfheartedly.

34 mins The Fire are maintaining most of the possession, even with LA pressing hard all over the pitch. Conde's long ball is mishandled by Gonzalez, and McBride has a good chance to volley - but it's meekly hit and dribbles wide.

36 mins Sorry, should've mentioned this earlier - Mike Banner moved back into left back to fill in for the ejected Segares and Castillo's pulled out left. It's basically a 4-4-1 now, then.

39 mins Donovan! The giant foreheaded savior of American soccer and ESPN darling misses a wiiiiiiiide open header in the middle of the box - with Johnson scrambling - after a super cross from all the way by the corner by Cazumba. Tough day so far for the giant foreheaded savior of American soccer.

43 mins Fire are still holding onto the ball all over the pitch. This possession ends with a poor cross by Kinney after Nyarko did will to flick a ball over Dunivant and put Kinney into space down the line.

45 mins Tweet tweet! Halftime it is. Wow. Quite a half.

46 mins We're back. Interesting that de los Cobos didn't sub in Krol for Mike Banner at halftime.

49 mins Glancing over the halftime stats - LA outshot the Fire 6 to 3, and uhh, that's about the most interesting thing to say on all that.

50 mins Dema rips a shot over the bar. That was up by a nasty stepover on the near side by Bowen. Bowen should be able to just about have his way with Mike Banner, who's not a natural defender.

52 mins Nyarko is bowled over on the far side channel after a quick long throw by the Kinney down the line. This is a good chance for the 10 men Fire. ...Castillo drills it to the near post, Ricketts punches clear. Corner for Chicago.

55 mins That corner came to nothing. And now the Fire are trying to find a way to cash in all their possession. LA is sitting much father up field than they did in the first half.

56 mins Here's one way: Thorrington makes a run from the midfield through the far channel and gets almost all the way to the touch line before sliding a good cross to McBride at the near post - good defending by Gonzalez, though, who managed to put enough pressure on McBride to force a bad shot.

58 mins More footwork from Bowen as LA hold the ball a while in some dangerous places around the Fire box - but the final ball is a terrible cross out for a goal kick. Good end to end stuff, now.

60 mins Damn, Nyarko got UPPP! But he headed McBride's cross well wide.

62 mins Subs for LA: Bryan Jordan in for Tristan Bowen.

63 mins Logan Pause picks up a yellow for a tackle in midfield. The ensuing free kick is swung in by Donovan but Johnson punches out well. LA starting to impose control now.

66 mins Stuck flinging long balls up to McBride and hoping to run off him, the Fire will have to make something of their possession and of the free kicks McBride wins, like this one now. ...It's swung in poorly and cleared by the first defender.

67 mins Not a bad shot from Franklin after Donovan's little back heel set him up at the edge of the Fire box. It goes wide, though.

69 mins After Buddle heads a cross wide, the Fire send in Calen Carr for Nerry Castillo. Not a terrible game by Castillo, but we're all still expecting more as he works his way back to full fitness. Let's see if Carr's pace causes LA any problems.

71 mins The Fire get a freekick on the far side and Thorrington plays in a great ball - right onto McBride's head. BMB uncharacteristically heads over. Too bad - the Fire aren't creating many chances anymore, they needed that.

LA sub in Eddie Lewis for Cazumba.

73 mins Attendance announced as a sell-out 21,068. Damn. Also Donovan's shot after his corner cleared back out to him is saved by Johnson.

76 mins Ho hum.

77 mins Fire sub: big cheers from the sold out Toyota Park as McBride exits for Krol. Krol goes to left back, Banner pushes up to left mid, Nyarko moves to the right, and Carr goes up top. Whee!

79 mins Donovan RIPS a shot right at the top of the box, but it's straight into Conde's back. Ouch. Donovan's definitely more involved right now, and for the Fire, they'll need to find another way to go forward than just hoofing it forward because Carr won't win the long balls that McBride did.

82 mins LA sub: Mike Magee for Todd Dunivant. Fire sub: Collins John for Patrick Nyarko. Here's to somebody - anybody - getting this crowd on their feet.

84 mins It's solid, organized defending by the Fire. A point isn't terrible at this point with ten men and all, but with the playoff run in mind they HAVE to expect three points from every home game.

86 mins Collins John is an isolated figure up top for the Fire. If it wasn't for Gonzalez stalking his every move, I'd say he looks lonely. I don't envy the guy: he's got a good 5 minutes or so of sprinting and chasing everything too.

87 mins Thorrington is absolutely MERCKED about 20 yards from the LA goal, a bit to the left. John looks to take it. This might be the Fire's best chance.

87 mins GOAL CHICAGO FIRE 1-0 LA GALAXY John does take it, and take it incredible well. Expecting something over the wall to his near post, Ricketts was totally wrong footed by John's shot to the far post. Toyota Park finally stands up! (And John gets a yellow for taking off his shirt in the celebration, but it's totally worth it.)

90 mins GOAL LA GALAXY 1-1 CHICAGO FIRE Just as I was about to type how well the Fire handled the barrage of corners since John's goal, Donovan swings yet another one in and Gonzalez rises smashes it in. Johnson was helpless. (Whereas John ran around shirtless, the totalllllly classy Donovan decided to go shake his fist at the Fire fans who were booing him at each corner.

90+ mins Great save by Johnson on a wicked low volley by Franklin. This is crazy.

90+ mins John wriggles free now, charging at the LA defense, but his shot is blocked and...

90+ mins Tweet tweet tweeeeeeet! That's it. Both squads seem disappointed, as well they should be, but the fire especially will be ruing yet ANOTHER late goal.

I'm out, everybody. Thanks for reading.

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