BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - The Chicago Fire looked lethargic, out of sync … pretty much any adjective that has a negative connotation to it. There was no way to hide the fact that this team did not show up Wednesday, especially since they failed to put a shot on goal in front of a sellout crowd of 20,000, falling to the David Beckham-less Los Angeles Galaxy, 2-0, at Toyota Park.
“If you can’t get up for big games like this, I don’t know what the problem is,” said Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch (pictured).
The closest attempt to an on-goal shot came in the 59th minute when Patrick Nyarko’s header went down into the ground at such an angle that Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts had to come so far off his line to get the ball. Other than that, it was nothing but some passing headers, rolling or lofted shots that were not bound toward the frame.
Chicago also had to play with its “second-string” defense again, though the team did welcome the return of center defensive back Wilman Conde. That group hoped to post a similar result to last week’s 2-0 victory in Kansas City, but they got burned on L.A.’s quick attack.
Chicago native Mike Magee had a goal in the 23rd minute and assisted Landon Donovan’s goal in the 54th. With the win, L.A. already has surpassed last year’s points total of 33. This season the Galaxy are 8-4-10 with 34 points. The Fire drop to 9-5-8 overall and 3-3-4 at home.
“We were all off tonight. Bottom line, it wasn’t good from any of us,” Busch said. “In a big game, none of us were good enough. Big players need to step up and win games and none of us did. Bottom line is we didn’t play effective soccer. Effective soccer wins games. Effective soccer is what L.A. just did to us. Was it pretty? No. Effective soccer is what got us three points out in Kansas City. Tonight wasn’t effective soccer.”
Busch made three saves as the Galaxy put five of their six shots on goal. Chicago took 10 shots, but Ricketts did not have to make a save.
There wasn’t a whole lot Busch could do with either goal as Magee made a nice juke move to open a scoring path for the first goal, and Donovan simply jettisoned past Fire defender Dasan Robinson and fired the ball past Busch.
“We know tonight we had a bad night all the way around,” Fire head coach Denis Hamlett said. “For whatever reason tonight, with a big game and big crowd, we just weren’t sharp from the get-go.”
Next up: The Fire stay at home and host the Colorado Rapids for a 5 p.m. match on Sunday, Aug. 23. The game is televised on My50.
SlideTackles.net thoughts: Chicago was sluggish from the start, and the team just didn’t look like it was on the same page. There were numerous runs where some of the Fire players looked like they were close to bumping into each other. Defensively, yes, this team sorely misses the likes of Gonzalo Segares, Tim Ward and Bakary Soumare. But this team did perform adequately against K.C. Hamlett might want to get C.J. Brown back in there. Dasan Robinson looked so slow, and it was a bit of a surprise that Hamlett did not utilize one of his three subs to replace him.
L.A. does deserve some credit for the team’s defensive stance and the ability to turn some turnovers directly into goals. The Galaxy played some good fundamental soccer as they rebounded quite well from their loss to Seattle Sounders FC, a game that featured red cards to Beckham and Eddie Lewis.
The Fire need to quickly return to form. There was too much dribbling, not enough sound passing, and a couple scrums close to the net where they needed to get a foot on the ball and challenge Ricketts. There were times when the Fire created a nice buildup, only to see it go away because of a few too many dribbles above the box or an incident such as Nyarko tripping himself up after Cuauhtemoc Blanco makes a perfect send.
When you play a game where an own-goal would have been the only thing to get you on the scoreboard, you know you need to erase this match from the memory bank and start fresh on every level. They have no time to dwell on this one with a home match against Colorado just several days away.