Rapids Suffer First Home Loss of Season 1-2 to Chicago

COMMERCE CITY CO (Saturday July 4 2009) - The Chicago Fire ended a three-game MLS losing streak and posted their first victory in Colorado in nearly 10 years on Saturday diffusing the host Rapids' annual Fourth of July celebration with a 2-1 victory at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
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It had been three weeks since the Fire's most recent Major League Soccer contest. Although the club hardly was taking a holiday in the meantime with SuperLiga and U.S. Open Cup matches on its slate during the interim the Fire nonetheless rediscovered a scoring spark that had been missing in league play prior to the hiatus.

Marco Pappa and Wilman Conde scored first-half goals for the Fire who had gone 0-6-4 in their previous 10 road matches against the Rapids. With three points the Fire (6-3-6) leaped past Toronto FC and Columbus to move into a first-place tie with D.C. United atop the Eastern Conference standings.

The Rapids had Conor Casey back in their lineup after spending the month of June away on international duty though Omar Cummings was now gone with Jamaica for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The pair had combined for eight of Colorado's last 11 goals.

It was Colorado (5-4-6) that had the best early chance with Mehdi Ballouchy threatening in the 14th minute with a hard shot from 18 yards only to see it bounce off the crossbar.
The Fire managed to score only one goal during a three-game losing streak that culminated with a 2-1 loss at D.C. United on June 13 but victimized Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens twice during a seven-minute stretch in the latter stages of the first half.
Fire captain Brian McBride helped get the opening salvo started by playing a long centering pass off his chest to Baggio Husidic along the left side of the penalty box. Husidic immediately delivered a perfectly-placed centering pass to Marco Pappa in the middle of the box and Pappa recorded his fifth goal of the season on a left-footed liner into the top corner of the net.
Chicago took advantage of a crucial Rapids miscue minutes later when Colorado defender Cory Gibbs inexplicably deflected a ball that clearly was headed for the end line and a Colorado goal kick. Instead Fire midfielder Cuauhtemoc Blanco lined up for a corner kick that found the head of Wilman Conde who knocked home his second goal of the season.

The Fire held the Rapids without a shot on goal during the first half and continued their impressive defensive performance throughout much of the second half while making sure the lead held.
Halftime substitute Jacob Peterson finally tested Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch with a shot on goal in the 47th minute and the Rapids threatened again in the 67th minute again through Peterson as he unleashed a shot shy on the power needed to slip past Busch.

Colorado finally solved Busch to get on the board in the 78th minute. Busch made a diving stop of a Casey header attempt but was unable to fully control the save and Peterson swept in to knock it home from almost on the goal line for a 2-1 score.

The Fire held strong down the stretch though and survived a scare when Casey was taken down in the box in the 86th minute. Despite the protests of Casey and the record crowd at Dick's Sporting Goods park no penalty was called.
It was just the second loss ever on Independence Day at home for Colorado in 14 MLS seasons. The last loss on July 4 for Colorado came in 1999 to the Columbus Crew. Chicago's previous victory at Colorado was also in 1999 a 1-0 win on Oct. 6 of that year.

Pat Rooney is a contributor to MLSnet.com.
AT&T Rapids Man of the Match: Jacob Peterson
Scoring Summary:
CHI- Pappa (Husidic McBride) 30
CHI- Conde (Blanco) 37
COL- Peterson (unassisted) 76
Lineups:
Chicago Fire: Jon Busch Bakary Soumare Tim Ward Baggio Husidic Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Calen Carr 88) John Thorrington Marco Pappa Chris Rolfe (Patrick Nyarko 79) Brian McBride Wilman Conde Daniel Woolard (C.J. Brown 65)
Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Dykstra Justin Mapp Peter Lowry Austin Washington
Colorado Rapids: Matt Pickens Jordan Harvey Ugo Ihemelu Cory Gibbs Mehdi Ballouchy Conor Casey Terry Cooke Pat Noonan (Jacob Peterson 46) Nick LaBrocca (Greg Dalby 84) Pablo Mastroeni Kosuke Kimura (Ross Schunk 89)
Substitutes Not Used: Preston Burpo Scott Palguta Rob Valentino
Misconduct Summary:
COL- Gibbs (caution; Reckless Foul) 24
COL- Casey (caution; Dissent) 80
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: George Gansner Anthony Vasoli
Fourth Official: Ben Chouaf
Attendance: 19680