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Pappa's Hat Trick and Johnson's Clean Sheet Give Fire 3 Points | Chicago Fire
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Pappa_winChicago Fire beat Real Salt Lake 3-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium tonight. That's right, 3-0. Marco Pappa was absolutely dominant, scoring goals in the 9th, 36th, and 75th minutes. And I must say, Pappa's goals only got better as the night went on. If you didn't catch the match, do yourself a favor and watch the highlights as soon as you can. He did make a couple poor passes, but far more good and even fantastic passes. Great game tonight out of Pappa. You really can't ask for more. The whole team really performed at their highest level yet this season. Facing a very aggressive RSL side, the Fire stayed in control and pushed back just as hard.

After the fire went up 1-0, RSL's Beckerman sent Paladini to the ground with a headbutt to the chin, earning him a straight red in the 11th. Dumb move, Beckerman. The aggression continued as Espindola took out Dan Gargan in the 16th minute. A shoving match ensued (which put a huge smile on Gargan's face), earning both men a yellow card. The feud continued through most of the first half, but without any further bookings. I think the referee did a pretty good job of allowing fairly minor challenges to go without bookings after dishing out a straight red and two yellows so quickly. After Pappa's second goal in the 36th, the aggression seemed to die down just a bit. The intensity, however, was still there. Just a minute after the fire went up 2-0, RSL had a corner that wound up on the ground in the box. I thought for sure that RSL could finish, but after several furious seconds, the ball came loose to Oduro. His speed was nearly too much for the defense, but a last minute challenge from RSL denied his shot. Immediately, RSL took the ball back the other way just as quickly, but Josip Mikulic was there to force the ball out for a goal kick. Like I said, the intensity was still there.

GibbsThe Fire finished the first half up 2-0, but they didn't look satisfied at the start of the second half. RSL came out with incredible speed and pressure, requiring the Fire to pass quickly. The most impressive aspect of tonight's match was the Fire's ability to hold their possession effectively. I've complained about the lack of good passing for a while now, but tonight was different. Quick touches and constant movement were the name of the game. With this approach, the Fire were able to create plenty of chances. The second half was dominated by this style, limiting RSL's attack and allowing Pappa to drive up the wing in the 75th and score his 3rd and final goal of the night.

Our defense performed great. Gargan's aggressive style was fun to watch and surely prevented a few RSL shots. Gibbs did a great job in the box to end dangerous attacks without drawing a single foul. The only error I noticed was in the 28th minute when Sabario snuck past the back line. Thankfully Gibbs saw it happen and was able to catch up to Sabario just enough to force his shot wide. Midfield did a great job controlling the ball, tiring out RSL, and burning the clock. The offense was great too, not just Pappa. The first goal came off a pass from Paladini. The second off Pardo's nice pass. Oduro had some nice shots, as did Paladini and even Pause. The Fire tallied 6 shots on goal against RSL's 1. Bottom line: I didn't see any weak points in this Fire lineup tonight. It's a shame Grazzini had to sit out (hamstring), but it's good to know Paladini can step up and play 90' effectively. I have high hopes for Saturday's match against Houston. Don't miss it.