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Hunter Jumper scores first MLS goal to fuel Fire victory

Updated: September 25, 2013 6:16AM

Fire defender Hunter Jumper rarely had so scintillating an opportunity.

He converted a diving header off a sharp cross from forward Mike Magee in the 13th minute, and the Fire parlayed that into a 1-0 victory against Eastern Conference-leading Sporting Kansas City before a crowd of 17,085 on Friday at Toyota Park.

Making only his second start for the Fire, Jumper scored his first goal in a
Major League Soccer game. The result pushed the Fire back to the .500 mark
(10-10-4, 34 points).

‘‘It hasn’t really sunk in yet,’’ Jumper said. ‘‘You
never know when you’re
going to get your number called like that, and you have to be ready. The score was very important because it
allowed us to play back more the rest of the game.’’

The Fire overcame its share of distractions. Coach Frank Klopas was serving a one-game suspension after
being ejected from the team’s 2-0 loss last Saturday to the New England Revolution. Assistant Mike Matkovich directed the Fire in Klopas’ absence.

The Fire also dealt with the viral repercussions of an editorial on its website written by senior director of communications Dan Lobring. The editorial was critical of some fans’ behavior.

‘‘No distractions,’’ Magee said. ‘‘The atmosphere out there tonight was just great.’’

Defender Jalil Anibaba was the facilitator on Jumper’s goal. After his initial throw-in was deflected and played back to him on the right wing, Anibaba sent a sharp cross that Magee ran down and punched across to a streaking Jumper in front of the Kansas City goal.

‘‘Jalil played a great ball,’’ Magee said. ‘‘I was able to run and push it across, and Hunter did a great job getting his body on the ball.’’

In posting its first shutout since June 2, the Fire withstood some early pressure by Kansas City, including a near goal off a throw-in in the
second minute.

Magee showed no effects of the calf injury that caused him to miss the Fire’s previous home game against the Montreal Impact. Kansas City goalie Jimmy Nielsen made a couple of spectacular saves that prevented the Fire from extending its lead.

It was typical of a game that lacked scoring but wasn’t without incident. Fire goalie Sean Johnson was solid in notching his fourth shutout of the season, and Kansas City (11-9-6, 39 points) couldn’t solve the Fire’s
defense, especially its ability to pack the box and force Kansas City to negotiate through some tight windows.

‘‘We’re fighting for playoff points right now, and we needed those three points,’’ Jumper said.

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