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Fire home opener shows promise, doubt

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Two games into the 2011 MLS season, and the Chicago Fire have been both promising and troubling as the Fire won their home opener against Sporting Kansas City 3-2.

Uruguayan forward Diego Chaves scored his second goal in as many games in the 34th minute when he slotted home from the spot after former Mexico international Omar Bravo was sent off for denying a scoring opportunity. Bravo tackled Gaston Puerari, who had a breakaway after a SKC free kick was caught by keeper Sean Johnson.

Puerari joined his compatriot on the score sheet in the 40th minute after Mike Videira put the Uruguayan through with a clever through ball.

Kansas City got on the board in the 51st minute on a corner with a Matt Besler goal when Johnson fumbled the cross.

The highlight of the match was Marco Pappa’s 59th minute goal. Somehow managing to dribble through four players, Pappa fired into the right hand corner of the goal with his opposite foot. Pappa called it a “lucky goal because the ball bounced off my foot about seven times.  When I saw the ball in front of me, I took the shot and I was happy it went in.”

Teal Bundbury scored for Kansas City in the 72nd minute, but that was the last threat of the match for SKC, as the Fire kept possession and continued to pressure the 10-men squad.

Man of the Match: Marco Pappa. Pappa once again spearheaded the attack for the Fire and seems to be the only real creative force for the team. His 59th minute goal was spectacular and it’s no wonder he was the only All-Star selection for the Fire last season.

Needs to do better: Cory Gibbs and Gonzalo Segares. If coach Carlos de los Cobos’ 3-5-2 formation is going to work, the left side of the defense and midfield has to do better. Segares’ awful back pass led to Kansas City’s second goal, and Gibbs has been shaky thus far in his first two games with the Men in Red. With the attack-minded Patrick Nyarko playing right midfield, the formation has the makings for conceding quite a few goals.

Players to keep an eye on: Josip Mikulic, Jalil Anibaba and Mike Videira. Mikulic has been solid being the center back for the Fire, although his clearances haven’t quite been as solid as I would like. Right center back Anibaba – the Fire’s No. 9 overall SuperDraft pick – contained Bravo before he was sent off and shut down the right side very well. Videira played center mid on the right side, next to captain Logan Pause, and grabbed an assist on Puerari’s goal. Although his passing hasn’t been stellar, I think Videira is a player of the future for the Fire and will improve with more minutes.

Side note: Section 8, the independent supporters section of the Fire, chanted “You’re still the Wizards” – poking fun at the rebranding of the Kansas City Wizards to Sporting Kansas City.

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