for this game

Fire spoil Vermes' coaching debut, blank Wizards

Aug 16, 2009 - 10:36 PM By STEVE BRISENDINE STATS MLS Correspondent

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (STATS) - Fouled so hard he had to leave the field for several minutes, Mike Banner didn't retaliate.

Not immediately, at least.

Four minutes after drawing a red-card foul against Kansas City's Zoltan Hercegfalvi, Banner scored his first MLS goal to put away the Chicago Fire's 2-0 victory over the Wizards on Sunday.

"That did feel good," Banner said, "but I didn't even realize it was a red card until I came off the field and one of the trainers told me the guy got thrown out."

Chris Rolfe also scored and Jon Busch posted his eighth shutout of the season for the Fire (9-4-8), who spoiled Peter Vermes' first game as Wizards interim coach. Chicago improved to 6-2-4 on the road and trails Eastern Conference-leading Columbus by three points.

"When we're on the road, there's a sense of togetherness," Chicago coach Denis Hamlett said. "The guys enjoy each other's company, the concentration level is high, and there are no distractions."

Banner's insurance tally in the 89th minute was the ninth consecutive goal scored against the Wizards (5-8-6), who are winless in five matches and have been shut out four times over that span.

Vermes, Kansas City's technical director and a member of the Wizards' only MLS Cup-winning team in 2000, replaced Curt Onalfo after a 6-0 loss at FC Dallas on Aug. 1.

"We didn't come in with too many high expectations, into this first game," Vermes said. "Look, we've got a lot to work on. It's not all going to happen in 10 days. Going forward, I believe we're going to have to make incremental improvements."

The Fire were able to find space behind Kansas City's defense for much of the game, and Rolfe capitalized in the 13th minute. He took a pass from Marco Pappa, cut between Jimmy Conrad and Matt Besler, and fired a shot inside the right post from 13 yards.

Both Chicago goals came on plays that started with throw-ins.

"That's the most disappointing part," Wizards defender Jimmy Conrad said. "Throw-ins are pretty dangerous on this field. You can't ever shut off. If you want to be a team that's consistently good, you have to be awake at all times."

Hercegfalvi, who made his MLS debut after a transfer from Hungarian club Honved FC, provided an immediate offensive spark as a second-half substitute until he was ejected in the 85th minute for his hard tackle on Banner.

"I think maybe he thought he was still playing in Hungary," Vermes said. "They let them get away with more of that kind of stuff there."

Busch made five saves, giving him 73 this season. He moved into second place behind Toronto's Stefan Frei, who has 75.

The Wizards were without two of their most prolific scorers, Claudio Lopez and Davy Arnaud, who served one-game suspensions for yellow-card accumulation. Arnaud and Lopez have five goals each this season.