Thursday, July 8, 2010
Updated: 11:31 PM
By JJ Stankevitz
Thursday night was World Cup Night at Toyota Park, so it was fitting that the only player on the pitch to play in the 2010 World Cup scored the game-winning goal.
Unfortunately for Chicago, that player was Real Salt Lakes Robbie Findley.
Findley, who appeared in three World Cup matches in South Africa for the U.S. National Team, scored on a penalty kick in the 39th minute. The goal was not an isolated incident, though, as Findley dominated the final seven minutes of the first half.
That dominance began in the 38th minute, when Findley beat Fire keeper Andrew Dykstra but saw his shot go off the right post. A minute later, Findley found himself in Chicagos box and was knocked down on a hard tackle from C.J. Brown.
Brown was whistled for a foul and Findley was given a penalty shot, which he easily converted to give Real Salt Lake a 1-0 advantage.
Coach Carlos de los Cobos was not pleased with referee Terry Vaughns ruling of a penalty kick on Browns challenge of Findley. There was contact between Brown and Findley, but de los Cobosand the Chicago fans at Toyota Parkvehemently disagreed with Vaughns decision to award a penalty.
I dont usually speak about the referee because I respect these guys too much, but they made a big mistake on the penalty kick because I saw very normal contact between C.J. and Findley, said de los Cobos.
Findley nearly gave Real Salt Lake a 2-0 advantage in the 43rd minute, too. The 24-year-old striker got behind Chicagos defense and had just Dykstra to beat, but failed to get a shot off.
Yeah, probably, said Findley with a laugh when asked if he thought he should have had three goals. But you cant make them all, I guess.
Findley didnt notice any changes in Chicagos defense late in the first half that led to his success. I started to read Chicagos defense, and every time I would check, they would be on my back, said Findley of his ease in getting behind Chicagos defense at the end of the first half. When we had the ball, it seemed like they had eight or nine behind the ball. It was tough to get through them, but we did well and were patient, and things opened up.
Chicago failed to mount any serious scoring challenges in the first half. But a pair of substitutions by de los Cobos sparked Chicagos offense in the second half.
At halftime, de los Cobos swapped midfielders, pulling Logan Pause for Justin Mapp. And, to the pleasure of the 17,847 fans at Toyota Park, Arlington Heights, Ill. native Brian McBride was subbed in for Stefan Dimitrov at forward.
Bringing McBride and Mapp to the field, I think the team had a very good change about possession of the ball and control of the game, said de los Cobos.
They came on and gave us that energy we needed, said defender Steven Kinney. We kept the pressure on them for the second half, but it just wouldnt fall for us tonight.
Kinney experienced that frustration of not finishing first-hand. The six-foot defender saw two headers cruelly bounce off both the left and right goalpost in the second half, the first coming in the 48th minute and the second in the 56th minute.
I was feeling that it probably was not our night tonight, said Kinney of how he felt after missing the second header. We got more chances, but it just wouldnt fall for us tonight.
Chicago continued to develop scoring chances throughout the second half, leaving Real Salt Lake only a couple chances on the counterattack. Real Salt Lake conceded nine corner kicks in the second half, but Chicago failed to convert on any of them.
To be fair, though, two of those failed conversions came on a Kinney header going off the post.
Kinney was robbed again in the 71st minute when Real Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando got a piece of his shot. It wasnt as heartbreaking as his two header misses, but for a Chicago team that currently sits on the outside looking in of the MLS playoff picture, any good, missed chance hurt.
With 17 points, Chicago is in tenth place overall in the MLS table. The top two teams from the Eastern and Western conferences qualify for the playoffs, and the four next-best teams from either conference will also receive playoff bids.
While Chicago has only played 14 of 30 MLS matches, it currently is two points behind No. 8 San Jose. Houston currently is in ninth with 18 points.
Real Salt Lake subbed Findley out in the 58th minute24-year-old Ghanan forward Patrick Nyarko did not play and was designated as a substitute. Nyarko continued to experience concussion symptoms from a challenge July 3 against Columbus, according to the teamChicago announced Manchester United will hold an open training session at Toyota Park Wednesday, July 14 at 4 pm. The training session will be open solely to ticket-holders for that evenings Fire-Morelia SuperLiga matchManchester United will play the MLS All-Stars Wednesday, July 28 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas in the MLS All-Star Game.