Findley penalty kick lifts RSL past Fire

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By ANTHONY ZILIS

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – In a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference finals, which ended in a shootout, it almost seemed fitting that the game's only goal came was a penalty kick, as Real Salt Lake beat the Chicago Fire, 1-0, Thursday night at Toyota Park on a Robbie Findley spot kick.

The penalty came in the 39th minute, when Findley turned the ball away from C.J. Brown, who lunged and caught Findley's ankle in the box.

Findley then stepped up to take the kick, and don't think last year's shootout didn't enter into his mind.

"As I was standing up I hear some of their teammates calling the goalkeeper’s name, and I was figuring they were telling him where I went last year so I switched it up,” Findley said.

Dykstra was sent to his right as Findley slotted the ball into the opposite corner.

Brown was none too happy about the penalty call as he stood in front of his locker after the game.

"If you have to ask a question about it, you probably question it yourself," Brown said. "I'll live with it. It's part of the game."

The Fire (4-5-5) were inches from equalizing twice in the second half, as rookie defender Steve Kinney hit each post on headers from corner kicks, first in the 48th minute, then in the 57th.

"Those posts were nice to me tonight," said Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who extended his clean-sheet streak to 498 minutes. "I felt like Uruguay back there. I think we fell asleep twice the entire match, and we knew this game was going to be a battle and I think we battled the whole way through. Even the posts were with us tonight."

Thursday was Kinney's Major League Soccer debut, as the third-round pick out of Elon started at right back. Fellow rookie Kwame Watson-Siriboe got the start at centerback, as Wilman Conde was moved to midfield with injuries to Patrick Nyarko and Justin Mapp forcing coach Carlos de los Cobos' hand.

Brian McBride was also left out of the starting lineup, giving Stefan Dimitrov the start. Dimitrov was largely ineffective though, and McBride was inserted to start the second half, along with Mapp.

The substitutions immediately paid dividends for the Fire, but they weren't able to get past the Salt Lake defense, who packed it in for much of the half.

"The same thing happens to us, the guys make a big effort and we have good moments but we make mistakes when attacking and finishing," de Los Cobos said. "We have to think about the future."

Real Salt Lake (9-3-3), on the other hand, inched within six points of the first-place Los Angeles Galaxy with the victory and extended its unbeaten streak to 10 matches.

“I think the last couple of years we were happy with a point, and if we don’t get that point it’s not a big deal," Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis said. "Now it’s we aren’t happy with a point, we want three points.  I think the confidence of winning early in the season really helps us out in these kinds of games.”

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What did you think of Thursday night's game? Think Salt Lake was fortunate to get the points? What do the Fire need to do to get back on track?

Share your thoughts below.

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21 Responses to Findley penalty kick lifts RSL past Fire

  1. Mango says:

    I love RSL, but that game was just embarrassing. I’m actually alright with the penalty call…maybe a little soft, but the contact was there.

    I am though, embarrassed by our second half play, especially the diving by Espy and Morales. I loved how we dominated possession in the first half, but I hated how we bunkered down in the second. That’s not RSL soccer.

    Just an ugly, ugly game.

  2. Clayton says:

    I watched the second half after hearing LeBron’s big decision. I am a HUGE US soccer and MLS fan, but this game was flat out boooorrrrrring. It was pretty bad. Kinney was the only bright spot.

    Espindola and Morales, two very talented players, were flopping and faking injuries (mostly time wasting) everytime they were touched – freakin’ discraceful (for lack of a better word). Thank you for not diving team USA.

    Congrats Corben Bone on getting in. Need to see more touches from you, buddy. Keep it up.

  3. Paul Dickov says:

    Ugly match to watch, but if you’re an RSL fan you’ll take the win in a humid Chicago any day of the week regardless of style points. Last night’s match is the type that past RSL squads would drop… so I guess there’s positives to be taken from any match.

  4. PC says:

    Findley is awful, in case anyone hasn’t caught on to that over the past 4 weeks.

  5. DCBird says:

    Couldn’t agree more with Clayton. Maybe it was the heat, or just the malaise of midsummer with a World Cup to boot, but it was like no one on the field was even trying. There was a stretch in the second half where the ball was thrown in and booted either right back out of play or blindly upfield for at least 10 minutes. The players on both sides were just standing around, shrugging or at most waving their arms half heartedly.

    I don’t expect MLS to show top quality talent, but I do expect to see effort on the field. Chicago fans must have been furious to have their squad basically give up on even trying to salvage a point at home around 75′.

  6. Marc says:

    The Fire play way too defensive even when they have their “top 11″ on the field. 95% of the game they had four defenders marking/standing in a line with only one attacker up there.

    Starting Conde and Pause together in the midfield was a mistake. We always give too much credit to our opposition.

    We also cant rely on a 38 year old to do all the scoring.

    If the Fire don’t do anything to bolster their lineup next week you can kiss the playoffs goodbye.

    Mediocre is too nice of a word for them

  7. kpugs says:

    Sorry everyone, but I refuse to believe that Findley intentionally scored a goal. It’s simply impossible.

  8. Soccer Purist says:

    Findley haters. They simply have no knowledge of the game. Apparently you guys are better at assessing players than most MLS coaches and the U.S. national team coaching staff. Findley looked okay in this game. Not to mention he has scored in two straight since returning and should of had a another. The guy is still adjusting to being home.

    You cannot possibly argue with his contributions in MLS.

    Anyone bashing the way RSL played. It has proven to be a near impossible task to win on the road in this league. If you can grind out a win on the road and keep a shutout. You’ve done your job.

    People who didn’t like this game just aren’t purists.

  9. slr says:

    RSL seemed in control for most of the game, despite what ESPN’s Chicago homers that called the game were saying. Yes, it was ugly, but its 3 points on the road, something that was almost impossible to fathom for RSL fans before this season.

  10. jonk says:

    You’re right, Findley looked ok. He had one brilliant shot that dinked off the inside of the post, but then there was also the sequence where he was in alone with the keeper and managed to dribble himself out of a shot. He’s like the US version of Theo Walcott…except, you know, not as good.

  11. Smacking says:

    There was so little intensity on the field. Watching the game, I couldn’t stop thinking about player development. Now I know this is just one very poor example, but how do players get better without facing serious challenges every week. That goes for budding rookies all the way to LD.

    I’m still optimistic about the future and have seen lots of progress in the league, but it’s a serious issue to address.

  12. PC says:

    Maybe the most asinine comment ever?

  13. jts says:

    I don’t know the Fire that well, so I don’t know if Pappa had a poor game or if his play last night was normal.

    In the first half he singlehandedly killed about 8 offensive possessions with terrible touch and baffling passes.

  14. nynow says:

    Are you kidding? That was a tremendous show of skill the way he took a bad touch and minor contact and turned it into a penalty.

  15. Mingjai says:

    And with that one move, now 3 Italian sides and a Spanish side are interested in signing him!

  16. Charles says:

    I enjoyed the game.

    I disagree with Soccer Purist. Salt Lake didn’t do near enough to “grind out a win”, but rather got lucky…more than once.

    I haven’t seen the Fire more than a couple of time, but Kinney looked like ANOTHER example on how fast MLS is getting better with rookies/sophomores making big contributions.

  17. Red says:

    Pretty sure he isn’t awful. Despite what low-life internet bullies say, no USMNT WC player is awful. Kevin Goldwaithe is awful. Devon McTavish is awful. Robbie Findley is just really good in MLS, but not WC level…yet.

    But isn’t easier just to say he’s awful.

  18. Sudden Pessimist says:

    Yeah, and he’ll probably tear his ACL in practice this week and we’ll never see him again.

  19. Front Row says:

    The Fire have a handful of problems. Pappa has become a ball hog and only passes when he can’t dribble past the defense. Banner looks lost when he has the ball. Fire had chances but no one can finish. The commentators were too nice claiming that the Fire’s problems are because too many regulars are out due to injury. It’s not as if that are crushing opponents with regularity. What is hurting the Fire is all the talent they lost from last year.

  20. fivefouls says:

    Having watched every Fire MLS match this season, I don’t think one can understate the importance of Patrick Nyarko for this team. He and McBride sometimes seem like the only guys trying to make a play. Pappa is having a good season, but he gets way overconfident at times and starts trying to score from Gary, Ind.

    That said, it was not a great effort last night. Defense wasn’t the worst I’ve seen from them this year, and they dominated the majority of the second half, but couldn’t get it on goal. McBride also missed a signature header just wide.

    Awful game by RSL though, Espindola only reached new heights of prick-titude.

  21. fischy says:

    Nope.

    Not even close. I’d say you’re in the running, but then I’d be, too.