Fire hits break in full stride

SportsSoccerChris ArmasZach ThorntonJustin MappTony MeolaNick Garcia

This might be the wrong time for the Fire to take a break.

The Fire turned in a dominating performance in Saturday night's 2-0 victory over Kansas City and head into a two-week Major League Soccer All-Star break with three wins and a tie in its last five games.

But coach Dave Sarachan isn't worried that time off will adversely effect his group.

"In some ways, you want to keep this thing going," he said. "But I really do feel that we're at a midway point where we can now relax a little bit. ... In any profession you need to recharge the batteries, and I think now's a good time to do it."

Evan Whitfield and Justin Mapp each scored as the Fire outshot the Wizards 25-8 before 11,877 fans in Naperville. Goalkeeper Zach Thornton, meanwhile, earned his 40th career shutout and fourth of the season as the Fire maintained a perfect all-time home mark (8-0) against the Wizards.

Whitfield started things off with an open-net tally in the game's 12th minute, his first score since September 2000. After a feed from defender Jim Curtin, Whitfield chipped the ball past defender Nick Garcia and goalkeeper Tony Meola, who came 10 yards out of the goal box to head off the shot.

The Fire defender then raced ahead and aimed for the middle of the empty net.

The Fire could have had at least three more goals in the opening half. The most spectacular near miss came from forward Damani Ralph. With his back to the net, Ralph took a feed from Chris Armas, turned around and worked the ball through three defenders and was denied a goal only when Garcia alertly moved to the goal line to intercept his shot.

Mapp connected in the 53rd minute when he blasted a left-footed shot from the 20-yard line through Meola's hands.

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