for this game

Real Salt Lake 0, Fire 1

Aug 2, 2009 - 4:50 AM By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO STATS Writer

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (STATS) - Strong defensive play has been a big part of the Chicago Fire's five-game unbeaten streak. Then again, when the other team doesn't score, it's pretty tough to be beat.

The Fire recorded their fourth consecutive shutout and Patrick Nyarko found the back of the net late to defeat Real Salt Lake 1-0 on Saturday night.

Chicago (8-3-8) has outscored its opponents 5-1 to go 3-0-2 in its last five matches, and has now notched consecutive victories at Toyota Park after setting a franchise record with a six-game winless run there (0-2-4) from April 18-July 11. It broke that string with a 2-0 win over San Jose on July 18.

"If you don't concede goals, you can't lose. It's as easy as that," Fire defender Bakary Soumare said. "We know as long as we keep shutouts, we give our team a chance to get at least one point. If we're able to get three points, that's even better."

Nyarko, who scored the game-winner with eight minutes left against the Earthquakes, was able to help the Fire take the three points again Saturday, netting his fourth goal of the season in the 76th minute.

The play started when midfielder Mike Banner's throw-in found a wide open Tim Ward along the left wing. The defender-midfielder then sent a cross into the center of the box, where Nyarko freed himself from a defender and drove a header off the left post and into the back of the net for the lead.

Nyarko is seeing increased playing time at forward after July shoulder surgery shelved former U.S. national team star Brian McBride for up to four months. Prior to the injury, Nyarko had been used on the right wing.

"I said to the team that when we lost Brian we were going to be different," Fire coach Denis Hamlett. "I think we can use more of our speed and really stretch the other team. With Patrick, he's fast, but sometimes people don't realize how fast he is, and he's got a way of using his body and getting inside a defender."

Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch made five saves against Salt Lake (6-8-5), recording his seventh shutout, tying him with Chivas USA's Zach Thornton for second in MLS - one behind Pat Onstad of Houston.

Bush was last season's MLS goalkeeper of the year, due in part to his league-high 10 clean sheets.

Chicago also won without without playmaker Cuauhtemoc Blanco (left ankle sprain) and defender Wilman Conde (left hamstring soreness).

Both players were injured in Wednesday's All-Star game at Salt Lake, where the MLS team lost 4-3 on penalties to England's Everton. However, they are expected to be back for this Wednesday's SuperLiga final against Tigres of Mexico.

The Fire are second in the Eastern Conference, one point back of first-place Columbus, which defeated Colorado 1-0 on Saturday. Chicago has a game in hand on the reigning MLS Cup champion.

RSL came up empty on 16 shots - five on net - to fall to 1-7-2 on the road.

The team's best chance came in the 72nd minute when Tony Beltran's curling shot from 20 yards out hit the crossbar.

"I really felt like we played well enough to earn a draw," said RSL coach Jason Kreis, who was serving the first of his two-game suspension for confronting officials during last Saturday's 4-2 win over Dallas.