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FC Dallas clinches playoff berth, Chicago in post-season jeopardy after home defeat

FC Dallas Logo  Chicago Fire Logo

By DAVE GUBALA

BRIDGEVIEW, IL — The Chicago Fire went into Wednesday night's match against FC Dallas knowing that anything short of a victory would all but erase their chances of reaching the playoffs. For FC Dallas, the match was about trying snap a losing streak and poor run of form.

Only one team got what it wanted, and it wasn't the home team.

FC Dallas broke out of their recent slump with a strong performance against Chicago, scoring two goals goals to post a 2-1 victory at Toyota Park. The win helped FC Dallas clinch the Brimstone Cup for a 10th consecutive year and it also put an end to a four-game losing streak for Dallas.

The defeat narrowed Chicago Fire's playoff hopes to nearly improbable with two league games yet to be played. The fire can only make the playoffs with two wins and two losses by the Houston Dynamo. The Fire will also need both D.C. United and Portland to stay below 43 points on the season.

Jackson and Daniel Cruz scored in the 41st and 53rd minutes respectively to give FC Dallas a 2-0 lead and while the Grazzini managed to pull one back late for the Fire in the 86th minute.

"I think you finally could tell we had some time off," said FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.

"We're a very athletic team and were able to get a couple of goals in with our counter attacks. We were going to compete until the dying minutes and were prepared for almost anything that was going to come."

Thin ice finally broke on a shaky Fire backline in the 41st minute as they struggled to match the visitors' pace from the very start. Ugo Ihemelu's long throw-in was met by a streaking Jackson who managed to sneak one past a flat-footed Sean Johnson.

Johnson had made a few remarkable saves earlier in the first half but just wasn't able to put a stop to Jackson's effort due to the wrong positioning of his body in the heat of the moment.

"With my positioning, I had my feet set and once he [Jackson] struck the ball, my feet were pointing in the wrong direction and all I could do was get my glove and try to push it away," said Sean Johnson.

FC Dallas added a second one in the 53rd minute. Ricardo Villar served in a well-placed corner that gave the Fire quite a trouble to clear out. The ball eventually fell to Daniel Cruz who finished it from close range with a quite impressive shot.

Brek Shea was introduced to the game in the 63rd minute after having played for the US National Team against Ecuador the very day before. 

“Schellas said he wanted me to keep the ball so we could go forward and keep a little possession,” said Shea.

“I think we came in wanting to win; sometimes it’s pretty, sometimes it’s not. We had some pretty good chances in the first half but Sean Johnson came out with a couple of nice saves so it was tough.”

With time running out for the Fire, things were inevitably going to get out of hand. In the 79th minute, Pavel Pardo was shown a straight red card on a rather needless tackle on Ricardo Villar.

"It was a play that I was a little bit late on," said Pavel Pardo.

"I think sometimes it was a foul that I think you make ten or twenty of in a game and it's the referee's decision but it's no excuse. When you have ten players it's always difficult to play and to try to win."

Yellow cards were also shown to Fire defenders Dan Gargan and Cory Gibbs resulting in both missing Saturday's game at DC United due to yellow card accumulation.

With four minutes left of regulation time, Grazzini was able notch one in for the Fire. Orr Barouch initially fed Grazzini the ball and the Argentinean found the back of the net with a curling effort from the top of the box.

Despite five minutes being added on, Dallas were able to hold on to their 2-1 lead and clinched a place in the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs and now stand just two points behind Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference standings.

FC Dallas host Vancouver this Saturday and end their regular season at San Jose on October 22nd.  

Comments

  1. Let’s not blame one call on the Fire failing to make the playoffs. The true blame lies with the players who couldn’t win during all of the first half and part of the second half of the season. Remember the first coach who was a joke and the fact the Fire management failed to use their DP credits. These shortcomings had deleterious affects on the Fire’s season. The real losers were the Fire season ticket holders who got stroked into buying an entire season and watched a mediocre product. Perhaps more disturbing is Fire management have nothing planned for improving the team next year.

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  2. No. The 4 US spots go to:
    1. US Open Cup winner (SEA)
    2. Supports Shield winner (LA)
    3. Winner of MLS Cup Final (LA?)
    4. Looser of MLS Cup Final (PHI?)

    If one or more of these is won by the same team, the team with the next most points in the league table qualifies for the CCL.

    in this example Real Salt Lake, would take the final spot.

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  3. I guess all Fire fans are now big Sounders fans…I assume MLS has a system similar to Europe where if the winner of the league(or in this case the MLS Cup) also wins the cup, the second place cup finisher gets their Champion’s League spot?

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  4. I’m glad Pardo got a red card. Since Armas retired retired the hasn’t been one player with any balls on this team (Sorry Logan Pause and CJ “I won the sportmanship award so I retired” brown). We have been consistently hacked by other teams and we’ve just taken it. There was a stat right before halftime, it read Dallas 11 fouls Chicago 4.
    Pardo has consistently stood up for his teammates and he isn’t afraid to get physical and in players faces. He reminds me a lot of Chris Armas.
    And yes, a defender leaving his feet and it not being a red card is something that happens in every game at least in MLS. Frankie Hedjuk has made a career out of it. It happens to either Pappa, Oduro, Nyarno or Grazzinni every game. If Pardo is a cheat, then every winning team in MLS has at least one cheat.

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  5. El Tri produces cheats. His comments are not a surprise. Blanco flopped like a fish game after game. Imagine the drama if the Fire fielded Blanco and Pardo at the same time.

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  6. As a Fire fan it is really upsetting to read junk like this…

    “”I think sometimes it was a foul that I think you make ten or twenty of in a game and it’s the referee’s decision but it’s no excuse. When you have ten players it’s always difficult to play and to try to win.””

    You can rot on the bench Pardo if you think that leaving your feet for a double studs up scissor tackle through the back of a guy’s legs is something that happens 10-20 times a game. Indefensible.

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  7. “The defeat narrowed Chicago Fire’s playoff hopes to nearly improbable with two league games yet to be played.”

    Nearly improbable? So that means still probable right? Around 55%?

    (Sorry to nitpick; I know what you mean of course. But this is kind of a funny expression.)

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  8. Brek only played half the game last night btw. But yes credit to his stamina, he’s played many 90 minute games this year. He put in a full 90 in the first international game this month and a substantial part of the second. The kid has a bright future for sure.

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