Photo by Jeff Vorva
Arturo Alvarez jumps over DeMarcus Beasley (left) and goalie Tyler Deric prior to scoring the lone goal in Saturday’s 1-0 Fire win over Houston.
PORTLAND TIMBERS AT CHICAGO FIRE
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Saturday
WHERE: Toyota Park, Bridgeview
FIRE RECORD: 2-5-4
PORTLAND RECORD: 4-6-3
LAST TIME: Portland, the defending MLS champ, beat the Fire 1-0 Aug. 7 in Portland thanks to a Fanendo Adi goal in the 22nd minute.
Fire makes Dynamo suffer
A little more than 24 hours after Chicago Fire General Manager Nelson Ridriguez hosted a roundtable with the media and proclaimed “we have not made other teams suffer,” his troops went out and made another team suffer.
The Fire, which entered Saturday’s match in last place in the Major Soccer League Eastern Conference won its second match of the year and first since April 2 after a 1-0 victory over Houston, the last place team in the Western Conference.
Arturo Alvarez jumped over former Fire star Demarcus Beasley and goalie Tyler Deric for a clear path to score in the third minute and goalie Sean Johnson, playing in just his second game of the year, notched his first win and shutout since Aug. 2.
“I thought he (Deric) was going to clean me out but I stuck with it and fortunately it went my way,’’ Alvarez said.
While a win over another last-place team is nothing to turn cartwheels over, it looms large because the Eastern Conference is filled with teams that are not on fire and a couple of more victories will get the Fire (2-5-4) quickly back into the playoff conversation.
So this week, while preparing for defending MSL champion Portland, which is suffering on its own and trying to stay out of the Western Conference basement, the Fire can feel happy after ending a four-match-in-11-day period with a win.
“With what we have gone through, I am happy for everyone who stepped on the field today and gave their all,” said Johnson. “We have to build on this win. Any positive you can get, you have to run with it.’’
Beasley back briefly
Beasley, a defender who played with the Fire from 2000-2004 and had 16 goals, made his first trip back after spending many years playing abroad, including a stint with Manchester City, he is back in the Untied State playing in the MLS.
But Beasley, who turned 34 Tuesday, left the match in the 13th minute after aggravating a previous unnamed injury.
After the match, he tweeted that he took responsibility for the loss and shouldn’t have played.
David Accam, the Fire’s scoring star who missed most of the season with a knee injury but played against New England and the New York Red Bulls, sat out another game – this time for a disciplinary reason.
Accam was fined and suspended by Major League Soccer for a play against the Red Bulls that “endangered the safety of an opponent” according to an MLS news release.
Rodriguez said that while the Fire accepted the punishment without protest, “David is not a dirty player.’’
Hunt for the hunt
The Fire entered the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup competition again and will enter the tournament in the fourth round and will play June 15 either at home against Indy Eleven or on the road against Louisville City. Indy and Lousiville square off Wednesday.
Since 1998, the Fire have compiled a 39-13-4 record in Open Cup play, including a 26-1-1 record in matches played in Illinois.
SKY BLUE AT CHCAGO RED STARS
When: 6 p.m., Sunday
Where: Toyota Park, Bridgeview
Red Stars record: 4-1-1
Sky Blue record: 2-3-1
Last time: The Red Stars won 3-0 June 28 in New Jersey. Vanessa DiBernardo scored in the sixth minute to set the tone and Jen Hoy and Alyssa Mautz added goals.
Leaving an Olympic-sized void -- three stars from first-place Red Stars will be missing for Sunday’s Sky Blue game
The three stars of the Chicago Red Stars – goal machine Christen Press, red-hot goalie goalie Alyssa Naeher and super defender Julie Johnston – will be missing when the team hosts Sky Blue on Sunday at Toyota Park and it will be interesting to see how the team functions without them.
The big three, who will likely make the final cut for the United States Olympic team, will join 22 others for the U.S. in a pair of matches against Japan in June and they are scheduled to leave for training camp on Friday.
The Red Stars (4-1-1) are coming off Sunday’s 2-1 road victory over the Seattle Reign, which ties them with Washington for first place in the National Women’s Soccer League.
In the past, Red Stars coach Rory Dames has expressed confidence in his roster and said that when the Olympians are gone, there is still quality players on the team.
Jen Hoy stepped up on Sunday and put in a pair of goals against Seattle, which played without star goalie Hope Solo who had a death in her family. If Hoy keeps it up, she will be able to help make up for the offensive void left by Press (three goals, which ties her with six others for the National Women’s Soccer League lead).
Replacing Naeher won’t be easy after she racked up 485 minutes of shutout work before Seattle’s Kim Little score on a penalty kick in the 89th minute. Naeher just missed setting a league record of five straight shutouts because of Little’s kick.
Look for Michelle Dalton of Mount Prospect to get the call in the net on Sunday. She started 12 games last year and recorded five shutouts and had 47 saves.
Johnston has had some injury issues this season with the Red Stars and Katie Naughton of Elk Grove Village replaced her so that transition should be smooth this weekend.
Sky Blue, which is based in New Jersey, had gone seven matches on the road without a loss until losing to the New York Flash, 5-2, on Saturday night.