BRIDGEVIEW, IL - Sometimes you don't know what to expect on a sunny and sticky afternoon. Chicago was reeling and hurting on their way into a Sunday matinee match with the visiting LA Galaxy.
But after going through a scoreless first half, the Fire managed to pull out 1-1 draw against the Galaxy at Toyota Park.
“I thought we played really well today," Chicago head coach Frank Yallop said. "I thought we had some great individual performances from a lot of the young guys playing, and other than one mistake, I thought we deserved to win. Obviously very frustrating points-wise, but very encouraging performance wise. I thought they gave their heart for this club and the team today and tried their best to get the result.
"The balance has not quite been right and I think the balance was good today. I think we created enough chances to win the game, but we limited them to not many good looks. Whether it’s Chris (Ritter) or the system we played, I liked it. Logan (Pause) probably would have played in there had he been healthy, but I was very happy with Chris’ performance. I was very happy with the whole demeanor we had and the way we went about it. I thought we played high up the field, which is important. I thought we created some good turnovers, our penalty comes from a turnover, but it was good play by us.”
Both teams had to deal with the heat, with temperatures in the area of 90 degrees and even warmer on turf. But that didn't stop effort on both sides. It took until the 68th minute before Chicago got on the board first. The Galaxy had some sloppy play in the back that helped the Fire.
Quincy Amarikwa gained some possession on the edge of the penalty area and was taken down by Juninho. Chicago was awarded a penalty kick. Mike Magee has taken recent PKs but was out of this match. So Jeff Larentowicz stepped up and converted this one into the left corner for a 1-0 lead.
"That’s what it was, it was a battle," Amarikwa said," It’s hot, you could tell. A little bit different than what we’ve been playing in recently. As a team, we battled, we fought hard; unfortunately one mistake got the best of us."
Maintaining a lead for Chicago late in games has been a concern. LA Galaxy responded a few minutes later on a bad pass from Ritter to Gonzalo Segares. Robbie Rogers stepped in front to intercept the ball and hooked up with Landon Donovan. Donovan showed his style by placing ball past Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson that tied the game 1-1 in the 74th minute.
"Awful game today. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve told the league when it’s this hot and humid in Chicago in June, we don’t want to play afternoon games," LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "This is not fair for the players. It’s difficult. It’s not fair for the fans. We shouldn’t be playing this game at this time. Difficult, difficult game for the players to deal with. Difficult conditions. You can’t play these games this early in the afternoon.
"Not his best day but (Landon Donovan) got a goal and he hung in there for 90 minutes so that was good. It was a lousy game today. There’s no other way to put it. I think Chicago played a little bit better than us, but the conditions were difficult for both teams and it made for a not-good game."
Chicago is in the midst of three games this week and will be on the road to face Colorado on Wednesday evening. The Galaxy will host Chivas USA next Sunday.