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Punchless Fire punished by Galaxy’s Robbie Keane

Fire defender AustBerry heads ball away from Galaxy defender David Junior Lopes July 8. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images

Fire defender Austin Berry heads the ball away from Galaxy defender David Junior Lopes on July 8. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images

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Updated: August 10, 2012 6:32AM

When Argentine midfielder Sebastian Grazzini took an indefinite leave and headed for his home country Saturday to deal with what the Fire is deeming “family issues,” all the players wished him well.

But after losing meekly to the Los Angeles Galaxy 2-0 on Sunday at Toyota Park with an anemic offensive display, Grazzini’s Fire teammates might be willing to pitch in for a return ticket.

The Fire (8-6-4, 28 points) has scored one goal in its last three games, all without Grazzini, and had only three shots on target against the Galaxy. Asked if the team is readjusting without one of the best playmakers in MLS, midfielder Patrick Nyarko didn’t hesitate to share what appeared to be the pervasive feeling.

“It’s been a year [the Fire has played with him],” Nyarko said. “A whole year is a lot of games playing with him, and you know what he can bring to this team. You know what he can do. We really got used to it; I’m not going to lie.”

Coach Frank Klopas, on the other hand, had a completely opposite take on Grazzini’s absence.

He was irritated by questions surrounding Grazzini’s departure and the subsequent offensive struggles and pointed to the four points the Fire picked up during Grazzini’s three-game absence.

“Wouldn’t we miss him the [previous] two games?” Klopas said. “It’s easy. The team loses, of course, the questions come. I think we have players [to replace him].”  

Outstanding defense, however, had made up for the struggling offense. But that defense was absent against Los Angeles (7-10-2, 23 points).

Galaxy striker Robbie Keane scored both goals, the first on a penalty kick in the 24th minute and the second on a counterattack in the 78th minute. He easily broke down the Fire’s defense.

“We were pretty lazy, and we didn’t have any movement,” center back Arne Friedrich said.

“We didn’t have the effort like we have to show, and there’s no excuses. We deserved to lose.”

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