Surging Fire beats Impact, nearly assured of playoff spot
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media September 16, 2012 12:10AM
The Fire’s Alex is defended by Nelson Rivas of the Impact on Saturday night at Toyota Park. | David Banks~Getty Images
Updated: October 17, 2012 6:53AM
Before the start of the summer transfer window, the Fire badly needed an offensive makeover.
The team was easy to defend against, and that gave opponents license to push players forward.
The front office responded by signing Dutch striker Sherjill MacDonald and Brazilian midfielder Alex and trading for midfielder Alvaro Fernandez.
On Saturday at Toyota Park against the Montreal Impact, all three scored in the Fire’s 3-1 victory.
The Fire has 50 points, nearly assuring itself a playoff spot.
“If you get the chances, you want to score, and after the Toronto game [Wednesday], I really said to myself, ‘I have to score the next game,’ ” MacDonald said.
“So I’m happy it happened, but the win is what’s most important.”
Fighting to get into the playoff picture, Montreal pressured high, and it led to the first goal by Impact striker Marco Di Vaio in the 20th minute.
But that tactic can be very dangerous against a counterattacking team, and the Fire rattled off three goals.
MacDonald equalized in the 34th minute, Alex scored in the 61st minute and Fernandez made it 3-1 in the 80th minute.
Alex was playing in place of the injured Pavel Pardo.
Chris Rolfe almost scored for the Fire, but his shot from outside the penalty area was knocked away by a diving Troy Perkins.
It was the seventh consecutive MLS game in which the Fire has scored at least two goals.
Before that streak, the Fire (15-8-5) had scored at least two goals in only six of 22 games.
“When you bring players in, you expect that they’ll fit in, and for certain guys, that transition is faster than others,” Fire coach Frank Klopas said.
“This is what I expected, and I expect a lot more from them.
‘‘These guys, I know they scored tonight, but they have a lot more to give, and I know they’re going to be getting better and improving as the games come.”
Fire defender Arne Friedrich left the game in the 41st minute because of neck tightness.
The move was made for precautionary reasons, and Klopas seemed optimistic that Friedrich wouldn’t miss any games.