The Chicago Fire had to fight for their victory against the Columbus Crew on June 23. The night ended with 2-1 at Toyota Park, and the team earned three points. I think some defense lapses from the Crew gave the Fire an early advantage, and their perseverance helped them secure a win despite losing Gonzalo Segares during the game.
An Early Lead
The Chicago Fire have shown a dramatic improvement in the last two games by being able to get an early lead. On June 23, goals in the first half from the Fire's Marco Pappa and Dominic Oduro gave the team the lead. This is a positive change from previous matches that showed a lack of activity or urgency in the first half and a desperate need to catch up in the second half. The ability to establish an early lead gave Chicago the advantage.
The Red Card
In the 29th minute, Gonzalo Segares received a red card, and the Chicago Fire were forced to play without him for the rest of the game. However, the team showed that it was capable of holding on to the lead while missing a player and being outnumbered by the Crew. The reckless challenge from Segares was immediately noticed by the referee, so he had no chance of staying.
Defense and Johnson
Goalie Sean Johnson had another strong night with eight saves and deserved a large amount of credit for the victory. Defense seemed more alert at the June 23 match and prevented several dangerous situations from the Columbus Crew. I think defense has been steadily improving during the last two games.
June 23 also featured the return of Arne Friedrich to the defensive lineup after a long absence. Friedrich has been recovering from a hamstring injury that occurred in the middle of May. He only played for a short period of time against the Columbus Crew because Frank Klopas placed him in the game in the 72nd minute.
After two victories in a row, the Chicago Fire still have a difficult schedule ahead. They will travel to Livestrong Sporting Park to face Sporting Kansas City on June 29 and will only have a few days to recover before the next game. The team will travel to BBVA Compass Stadium on July 3 to play the Houston Dynamo.
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Lana follows MLS, UEFA and FIFA. She has been a faithful fan of the Chicago Fire since 1998. Follow @Lana_Bandoim on Twitter.