By JEFFREY KRAUSE
COLUMBUS, OH.–The Chicago Fire continued a trend on Saturday night as they faced the Columbus Crew for the first time this season. A late push was not enough for the Fire to walk away with any points, as the Crew prevailed, 2-1, behind first half goals from Eddie Gaven and Emilio Renteria.
Columbus dealt fairly easily with an anemic Chicago attack throughout most of the match, and added to their tally just before halftime when Emilio Renteria provided the eventual game-winning goal. Renteria out-muscled Fire rookie Austin Berry off the ball, which gave him all the time he needed at the top of the six yard box to turn and blast his shot past Sean Johnson.
The Crew opened the scoring in the ninth minute, when Eddie Gaven received the ball at the top of the box. He turned towards goal and took advantage of poor marking from Jalil Anibaba to send his strike to the near-post, past Johnson, who looked out of position on the play.
Chicago Head Coach Frank Klopas did not speak to the media after Saturday night's loss, however Assistant Coach Mike Matkovich addressed the early goal by Columbus. "Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't. We dug a hole, but we've got to proud of our team and the way these guys responded on the night. It's been a tough stretch," said Matkovich. "We always have a punch packed though, so it's not like we're going to lay down and you know we're coming. That's the true test of a good team."
Two offensive changes at halftime were not enough for Chicago, though rookie defender Austin Berry did add a second-half goal for Chicago on a Daniel Paladini cross, helping Chicago avoid a shutout in front of over 600 traveling Fire fans.
Chicago now travel to Michigan in US Open Cup play to take on Michigan Bucks on Tuesday, then return to MLS play against New England Revolution on Saturday night, their last match before the FIFA break.
Here are the match highlights:
What did you think of the match? Starting to believe the Crew are for real? Worried the Fire's offense will cost them the playoffs?
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