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Crew ends Fire's winning streak at two games

The SportsXchange

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Goals by Ethan Finlay and Jairo Arrieta in the first 25 minutes lifted the Columbus Crew to a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on Saturday.

The Fire (2-3-6) had a two-game winning streak stopped. Columbus (4-4-4) ended a 0-4-4 stretch with its first win since March 29.

"It's one of those games where Columbus was better than us," Chicago coach Frank Yallop said. "They deserved to win the game.

"We were poor defensively again. For us, we've got to address that, but it's difficult. We've got a few guys out at the moment. There's not a whole lot that you can change."

Forward Federico Higuain assisted on the goal by Finlay in the 10th minute and again on Arrieta's 15 minutes later with leading balls that left the Chicago backline exposed.

"The game plan is as soon as (Higuain) gets the ball to drop and go with the runners, but we couldn't really figure that out," Yallop said.

Finlay ran onto the pass down the right side as Fire defender Greg Cochrane pursued. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson charged toward the edge of the box but avoided making contact with Finlay and earning a possible red card.

"I put him out wide," Johnson said. "It was still an angle that he had a difficult finish. It could have been saved possibly."

Once Finlay got around Johnson he continued his dribble toward the end line before putting the ball out of the reach of a sliding Cochrane.

"I did think maybe I should have taken it inside at first," Finlay said. "You saw Cochrane make a nice play and he almost got back to the line. It was a tight angle, but it found the back of the net."

Finlay has scored in two straight games after going scoreless in his first 40 MLS games. He supported the four saves by Steve Clark, who had his second shutout of the season.

"The backline played fantastic," Clark said. "We did the little things very well today, and if you do that you're going to get shutouts."

Chicago was blanked for the first time this season. The Fire had several opportunities, but Clark came up big in the 76th and 90th minutes on Quincy Amarikwa.

"That's us," Yallop said. "We look like we're going to score most games. It wasn't like we didn't have a shot on goal. We had some good chances.

"We had chances to score, but you can't keep conceding goals. At some point, you've got to shut it down and make it difficult. It's the whole team. It's not just one or two guys that have to do it."

Arrieta's goal was scored in similar fashion on the left side as Higuain got the ball in space to Arrieta. He slipped past Fire defender Patrick Ianni, and once again Johnson came off his line only to see Arrieta slot the ball to the far netting for his third goal of the season.

"Columbus guys are tricky," Chicago captain Jeff Larentowicz said. "They know how to run off your backs. They know how to have time on the ball and allow guys in the midfield to pick off runners.

"Both goals came out of the midfield with runners off our back shoulders. Both ended up as goals. They also had similar opportunities that didn't come off for them."

Chicago came close to scoring in the first half, most notably a header off the post by Juan Luis Anangano in the 27th minute.

Anangano started at forward for injured forward Mike Magee, who is second on the team with four goals.

The Fire was also without defender Lovel Palmer, midfielder Patrick Nyarko and three other injured players.

"You can't put the blame on the lineup or the personnel," Johnson said. "We're all on the same team. We train together on the pitch and prepare ourselves for match day. We're more than capable of meshing for 90 minutes and getting a result."

Meanwhile, Columbus defender and captain Michael Parkhurst, who was among the final seven cuts Wednesday for the U.S. World Cup roster, came off the bench in the 87th minute.

NOTES: Fire technical director Brian Bliss missed a return to Columbus because he is overseeing the U.S. Men's Under 20 team training camp. Bliss is in his first season with the Fire after spending the previous six with Columbus. ... Former Crew and Fire forward Brian McBride is on a short-term coaching assignment helping the Chicago strikers. He is second all-time in Crew goals, with 62. ... The Crew is at Toronto FC on May 31 while the Fire next hosts the Los Angeles Galaxy on June 1.
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