Chicago Fire Tackle the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0

Ernest Shepard@@ernestshepardAnalyst IIIJuly 15, 2012

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - JULY 14: Pavel Pardo #17 of the Chicago Fire celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps in an MLS match on July 14, 2012 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois.   (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images

A goal scored on a free kick by Pavel Pardo helped the Chicago Fire tackle the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 in a physical matchup.

The game featured a lot of pushing, shoving and jersey holding. Several players received yellow cards, including Gonzalo Segares, Alex and Arne Friedrich (two) for the Fire, and Darren Mattocks for the Whitecaps. Friedrich was ejected after his second yellow card in the 69th minute when he and defender Austin Berry collided with Mattocks on a breakaway play.

The game also had its share of good passing, defense and some terrific saves by Sean Johnson. On the last save of the match in the 86th minute, Johnson swatted a goal attempt out of bounds. It led to some rarely seen emotion from the Fire players. It was a symbolic save in a sense, a save that could send a message to the rest of the league that this team is for real.

The Fire did a great job defensively on Mattocks, who earlier in the week scored two goals against Toronto FC. The second of those goals was a header that became an instant classic.

Friedrich was given the task of shadowing the tough matchup with Mattocks and was asked if he had seen the goal. Friedrich was all jokes with his response, “he can jump high, but we can too,” quipped the West German defender.

Fire coach Frank Klopas after the match:

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A lot of credit to the players. Fantastic win. Obviously great to rebound like this after the setback against L.A. I felt we played an excellent first half. Very smart in possession. Good on our decision making. Scored a very nice goal, Pardo a fantastic free-kick. Felt we had a couple of other opportunities maybe to put the game away in the first half. And we started the second half the same way. You get a red card, it’s amazing, changes the game and I felt that the guys worked very hard in the end. Credit to the whole team. Stick a way to come away with the three points. Every game is important, we keep saying this. It was a huge win for the team.

The victory moved the Fire into a tie for third in the Eastern Conference and kept the team within five points of the conference leading Sporting Kansas City club.

Ernest Shepard is an analyst for the Bleacher Report, all quotes and observations were obtained first-hand.