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Monday, May 27

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Fire Wed Sep 05 2012

Fire Climb Into 3rd With Weekend Win

With a 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo Sunday night at Toyota Park the Fire jumped up to third place in the Eastern Conference. The win came thanks to a quick start and a couple of gifts from the Dynamo.

Many fans hadn't taken their seats when Patrick Nyarko picked off a sloppy Houston pass and ran the ball in for a 1st minute goal. If the fans missed the first goal, Houston gave the fans a virtual instant replay 18 minutes later. This time they gave the ball away to Alvaro Fernandez, who played a pass to Sherjill MacDonald who found Daniel Paladini breaking from midfield to put the Fire 2-0 up.

With a two-goal lead, the Fire was content soak up pressure from the Dynamo and catch them on the break. It worked. For most of the game the Fire looked more likely to score, despite Houston's whopping 70% possession advantage.

Things took a nervy turn towards the end of the match, however, with Houston bringing on veteran aerial threat Brian Ching and the Fire defending deeper and deeper. It paid off in the 90th minute when Ching scored from a set piece, however the Fire answered with a Dominic Oduro break that led to an insurance goal from Alex with the last kick of the game.

If you noticed from the recap above, two of those goals did not come from the usual sources. With the loss of Marco Pappa, it's good to see utility midfielders like Alex and Paladini stepping up to fill the void.

Paladini, in particular has added energy and drive to the midfield in his three starts since Logan...Pause's collapsed lung and broken ribs. Though Paladini provides more of a goal scoring threat, Pause will likely be back in the starting lineup because of his experience and leadership. Not to mention his toughness - who comes back two weeks after a collapsed lung? After his recent performances, Paladini could feel a bit aggrieved to be back in the understudy role, but hopefully he can see a more time down the stretch to lighten the load on our veteran midfielders.

One other thing worth mentioning about Sunday night's game - the crowd of 17,000 was the most fun crowd I've been in this year. Midway through the first half, Sector Latino on the South end of stadium and Section 8 at the Harlem End engaged in a long, drawn out call-and-response "FI--IIII--RE" chant. To my knowledge, it's the first time the two fan groups have chanted in unison and it brought the whole stadium into the game.

The enthusiasm even bled out to the usually quiet sideline seats, where periodic "OATS, OATS, OATS" chants in the semi-ironic hope that a third Sean Johnson save would lead to a promotional coupon for a free Quaker product. Like I said, that was a fun crowd.

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