Fire beats Sporting Kansas City but loses Arne Friedrich
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media May 12, 2012 11:23PM
Arne Friedrich (23) of the Fire and C.J. Sapong battle for the ball. | David Banks~Getty Images
Updated: June 14, 2012 8:33AM
When Sporting Kansas City traveled to Toyota Park to take on the Fire, it did its best to be hospitable guests.
After a dismal first half by the home team, Sporting Kansas City gave the Fire every opportunity to win the game. The Fire was happy to oblige, coming away with a 2-1 victory over the Eastern Conference leaders.
A Sporting Kansas City foul on Dominic Oduro in the box resulted in an equalizing goal by Sebastian Grazzini on a penalty kick in the 60th minute.
Three minutes later, Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza was issued a red card for elbowing Grazzini in the face and put the Fire (4-2-3) at a man advantage. That paved the way for Oduro to score the go-ahead goal in the 81st minute off a cross on the ground from Patrick Nyarko.
“A good team is going to capitalize on the other team’s mistakes,” Fire coach Frank Klopas said.
“You have to limit your mistakes, and if you do, you put yourself in a position to win. We took advantage of that today, but that’s in every game. One team is going to make mistakes, and now it’s the quality and ability of the other team to capitalize.”
The Fire might have come away with the result it wanted, but Sporting Kansas City (7-3-0 after dropping its third in a row) exploited what should be some serious concerns for the home side.
In the first half, the Fire failed to muster a shot on goal and went into halftime down 1-0, courtesy of a goal by Bobby Convey in the 31st minute.
When asked if he was concerned about his team’s offensive ineptitude in the first half, Klopas simply responded, “No.”
“The first half, we were a disaster, but in the second half we turned it around and did what we had to do to pull out the result,” Grazzini said through an interpreter.
That added to an already tumultuous first half that saw star center back Arne Friedrich go down with a strained hamstring.
Battling the wet turf, Friedrich attempted to strike the ball with his right foot in the 29th minute and immediately went down and grabbed his leg.
The loss of Friedrich, whose leadership is vital to the Fire’s back line, caused an initial period of disorganization that led to the goal By Convey.
Dan Gargan, who planned to rest an injured foot, substituted for Friedrich, and Jalil Anibaba was moved from right back to center back.
Friedrich will undergo an MRI exam Monday.
“You got to deal with it [reacting quick after injuries],” Anibaba said. “The game doesn’t wait for anybody, and it’s part of the game.”