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Nery Castillo and Freddie Ljungberg have an impact beyond the field.

CARSON, Calif. -- Chicago Fire coach Carlos de los Cobos was beaming after his team took maximum points off the Galaxy in Los Angeles with a 3-2 result on Sunday.

"I'm happy because these three points create enthusiasm among the team and the players," said de los Cobos.

Though Freddie Ljungberg made his debut with the club in a substitution role, the match was basically settled by that point. The team's other designated player signing, Nery Castillo didn't travel with the Fire, but that didn't mean that the new arrivals didn't have an impact on the Fire roster. The players looked hungrier and eager to prove themselves, perhaps knowing that they will be fighting for starting spots.

"We have another two players, very good players, big players," de los Cobos explained. "I hope we can have a very good second half (of the MLS season) with their strength on the team."

Ljungberg was seen as a big enough player to rush into the squad. The former Arsenal star flew straight from Seattle to join the team in California and made his debut a day after meeting his teammates for the first time.

"I've only seen them for 24 hours, but they really wanted me to try to play today," Ljungberg explained after the match. "Next week I'll start to train with them and learn the other players."

Though Fire media people said that Castillo didn't travel with the Fire due to his FIFA international transfer certificate needed to be complete, de los Cobos mentioned fitness issues for the player as well.

"He’s training to get to a good fitness level," said de los Cobos, who seemed to be anticipating a strong push for the playoffs from his Chicago squad. "The view for us in the second half is very good."

One reason for the coach's optimism was the fact that the new signings seemed to have caused a positive reaction in the club.

"The situation provokes improvement among the players, to have this competition," said de los Cobos.

The competition may even extend to the goalkeeping spot, as regular starter Andrew Dykstra was held out in favor of rookie Sean Johnson.

"It’s not permanent, but Sean Johnson played very well," de los Cobos explained. "He played his first game on the professional level (MLS league debut) and he showed he has very good qualities."



One of the standout players for the Fire in the match was midfielder Marco Pappa, who seemed to personify a new positivity for the players on the club.

"I’m glad we got the points," Pappa stated after the match. "We’re set to do very well in the second half of the season."

Pappa was especially pleased at the new signings for the Fire.

"It’s motivation, because we know that those players are very good and they come to help the team. Personally, I’m happy, but not satisfied, because there’s still a lot we can improve on."

As far as the Fire's win over the Galaxy, Pappa took a practical view of the final outcome, though he had a dim one of LA's second penalty in the game.

"We were very effective today, because we basically had three chances and we scored three goals, even though we didn’t have a lot of chances. Our win was deserved, because I’m not sure about those penalties of the Galaxy - especially the second one, as I’m not sure what the referee saw there. "

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