More late heroics for Robert Earnshaw in Fire’s 1-0 win
BY BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media August 30, 2014 11:08PM
Chicago Fire's new signing Robert Earnshaw gets a shot away at goal during the second half of a soccer game, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 in Toronto. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)
Updated: August 31, 2014 2:31AM
There’s been plenty of discussion around the Fire about the players they didn’t get this summer. They didn’t acquire midfielder Jermaine Jones thanks to a blind draw, and a deal to bring in forward Silvio Romero fell through at the last minute before the transfer window closed.
But the Fire did get forward Robert Earnshaw, and the free-agent signing paid dividends again Saturday night.
Earnshaw’s goal in the 83rd minute gave the Fire a 1-0 win over FC Dallas (12-8-6, 42 points). Signed Aug. 15, Earnshaw has scored as a substitute in both of his appearances for the Fire, who pulled to within four points of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
He’s also given the Fire another option off the bench to help them try to turn draws into victories. He did that Saturday, heading in a Jeff Larentowicz cross to give the Fire a win on a night they controlled play.
“I think if you look at Robbie’s goal-scoring record, it’s very good,” Fire coach Frank Yallop said. “He knows how to score goals. Give him the service, he’ll put it in the net.”
The Fire (5-6-14, 29 points) have had trouble doing that when needed. Before Earnshaw’s goal, the Fire were closing in on their 15th tie in their 25th game and on the verge of staying six points out of the playoffs.
That didn’t happen, and the Fire were able to win on a night the franchise honored the Chicago Sting at halftime as part of Chicago Soccer Heritage Night.
“I think the coaching staff, we were talking before the game, we feel we have a punch off the bench… finally, if you like, and a real danger,” Yallop said. “So if we feel that a game’s slipping away from us, I felt the last two games that Mr. Earnshaw will come on and make a difference, and he has.”
Earnshaw’s presence was needed even more up front because Mike Magee missed his second consecutive game because of a right hip problem. Magee has missed eight of 25 regular-season games, and without him the Fire would have been needing another potential scorer.
For the last two weeks at least, that problem has been solved by Earnshaw. It could mean Earnshaw will continue to come off the bench or it could mean he’s forcing his way into the starting lineup with his production.
Either way, he’s added a dimension the Fire have lacked, starting with his goal in last Saturday’s 2-2 tie with Toronto.
“The last two weeks I’ve been here I’ve noticed a real team work ethic,” Earnshaw said, “and that’s why we’ve got the points the last two weeks.”