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Fire regains that championship look with 4-0 dismissal of Dallas.

By Robert Wagman

(Saturday, October 23, 1999) -- Throughout the 1999 season, one never knew which Chicago Fire team would show up for any given match. Would it be the defending Major League Soccer champion the bickering and slightly dysfunctional bunch which managed to lose 14 league matches out of 32 outings this season?

Tonight, at cold and blustery Soldier Field on Lake Michigan, it was the champion which showed up. The Fire simply overwhelmed a Dallas Burn side which suffered through an evening to forget.

The Fire won this match at midfield. Jerzy Podbrozny, who missed the opening playoff game in Dallas last Saturday with what was called a case of flu, seemed to realize that he was shouldering much of the blame for the opening playoff loss. His dominance in midfield, along with the speed of playmaker Peter Nowak and striker Ante Razov was simply too much for the Burn.

The key play of the match game a few minutes before intermission. Trailing 2-0, the Burn was trying frantically to get back in the match. Dallas midfielder Sergi Daniv, who since making the transition from Project 40 in July has improved with each outing, raced across the Fire box and let go a wicked ground level shot. Fire keeper Zach Thorton made a terrific save to keep the match 2-0.

Chicago then put it away before intermission when young Burn keeper Matt Jordan made a huge positional mistake which allowed Razov to slowly roll in the Fire's third goal from 18 yards.

So the series now moves back to Dallas and the Cotton Bowl for the deciding third game on Wednesday night. It should be one of the better playoff matches in the four years of MLS. Dallas has been extremely hard to beat at home, winning 14 of 17 this season, but Chicago clearly came out of tonight's match with momentum.

Both matches thus far have been very physical. Wednesday will be interesting indeed.

Robert Wagman’s "It Seems To Me . . ." column appears weekly on SoccerTimes. He can be e-mailed at

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