MLS Playoffs: Crowd, Nyarko Ignite Fire

Patrick Nyarko came on in place of the injured Brian McBride and proved to be the sparkplug Chicago needed to complete the comeback.
BRIDGEVIEW, IL --If the Fire had any trouble finding motivation for Saturdays game against the Revolution, the boisterous crowd of 21,000 plus made sure they were ready. Luckily, the Fire was prepared, and the combination of the team and crowd’s passion was enough to vault them to a 2-0 victory and 3-2 aggregate over the New England Revolution.

“I can’t remember seeing a crowd like that here,” John Thorrington told after the game. “They were energetic from the start all the way through the end of the game, and all the players really fed off the energy they brought tonight.”

Thorrington, who saw his first game action since August 18th, played a huge part in the series turnaround for the Fire, scoring the first goal of the match and sending the already vocal crowd into a frenzy.

Despite a great team effort from Chicago that saw many players step up to the occasion, it was the unlikely hero Patrick Nyarko who gave the crowd the most to cheer about.

Nyarko came on in the 56th minute when McBride went down with an injury. The young Ghanaian provided a much needed burst of energy to the game for the Fire with his speed and tenacity.

“Patrick came on and made a big difference for us,” said McBride.

On two occasions Nyarko took the ball off of Revolution defenders and created scoring opportunities for Cuauhtemoc Blanco. The first the Mexican international barely missed, but the second he put in the top corner of the Revolution goal, sealing the series for the Fire.

“I saw him [Osei] slow down so I went hard and luckily I got the bounce,” explained Nyarko. “I planned on shooting, but I did not have a good angle, so I tried to cut back to the middle and shoot. Then I saw the defenders rushing the goal and Cuauhtemoc was open so I just set him up.”

Nyarko has seen a large amount of playing time this season, so the opportunity to make a mark on the game was no surprise to the 23 year old.

“I knew I was going to help the team, but not in this big of a way. I’m glad to come off the bench and contribute any way I can.”

The Fire now has earned a date in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against a surprising Real Salt Lake team that just finished off the supporters shield winning Columbus Crew earlier this week.

“Everyone was expecting Columbus and Real Salt Lake went in and played really well at Columbus, so we know it’s going to be a tough game here next week,” said Thorrington.

With the high likelihood of another great crowd next Saturday, the Fire seem poised to ride this momentum into the MLS Cup Finals.

Isaac Heath,