Fire keeper Sean Johnson gets his shutout in draw
BY SETH GRUEN Special to Sun-Times Media May 9, 2012 10:02PM
BRIDGEVIEW, IL - MAY 09: Marco Pappa #16 of the Chicago Fire moves the ball as Ned Grabavoy #20 and Tony Beltran #2 of Real Salt Lake close in during an MLS match at Toyota Park on May 9, 2012 in Bridgeview, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Updated: June 11, 2012 10:21AM
Since returning from U.S. Olympic team duty, Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson had been searching for his first shutout of the season.
It came Wednesday in a 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake at Toyota Park.
“That’s a positive, for sure, a clean sheet,” midfielder Logan Pause said. “But we’re extremely disappointed.
‘‘Drawing at home, I feel like [scoring opportunities] were there for the taking.”
The Fire looked to test Real Salt Lake keeper Kyle Reynish by playing combinations to get the ball forward.
Forward Patrick Nyarko put a perfect cross inside the six-yard line to Dominic Oduro. But Oduro, whose career has been plagued by an inability to finish chances, headed the ball off the crossbar in the fourth minute.
While the offense disappointed, the Fire hopes to carry its defensive effort into the game Saturday against Sporting Kansas City at Toyota Park.
“Communication was a huge thing,” Johnson said, “being more engaged in the game, getting everybody to communicate.
“Defensively, I thought the four in front of me were especially great.”
Coach Frank Klopas made a somewhat surprising decision when he started rookie center back Austin Berry instead of Jalil Anibaba.
Berry’s first MLS game came in a 2-1 road victory Friday over Chivas USA. He scored the Fire’s tying goal in the 25th minute.
Berry started that game in place of Anibaba, who was serving a one-game suspension, and had good chemistry with fellow center back Arne Friedrich.
Anibaba entered in the 51st minute Wednesday as a substitute for Dan Gargan at outside back.
“I thought Austin would bring an element to the game from a set-piece standpoint that we wanted to take advantage of today,” Klopas said.
“I’ve always said that you rely on the team, and I didn’t want to make any changes coming off the road victory.”