Harrington goal preserves tie for WizardsOct 5, 2008 - 10:46 PM By Marc Bowman PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
KANSAS CITY, Kansas (Ticker) -- Michael Harrington redeemed himself with a game-tying goal as the Kansas City Wizards kept their playoff hopes alive with a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire in front of a sellout crowd on Sunday.
After committing a handball foul in the penalty area which resulted in the Fire's lone goal in first-half stoppage time, Harrington evened the score on a right-footer from just outside the penalty area.
Josh Wolff crossed to Harrington, who made a couple of moves before knocking the ball into the right side of the net past goalkeeper Jon Busch in the 48th minute.
"Mikey certainly wanted to make up for that unfortunate handball," Wolff said. "It was one of those breakout plays and he did a good job of putting it in the back of the net."
"Credit to that kid," Busch said. "It was a great shot. He put it a foot inside the post. There's not a lot a keeper can do about a ball like that."
The goal was the 26th allowed in 27 matches by Busch, who leads the league with a 0.96 goals-against average. Chicago boasts the league's stingiest defense and a plus-nine goal differential - second-best in the MLS.
"I'm pleased with our defense," Busch said. "We played a little tight early on and dealt with their pressure. We'll look at some video to see if there's anything we can do differently to take that goal chance away."
Harrington's second goal of the year moved the Wizards (8-10-9) into a fifth-place tie in the Eastern Conference standings with D.C. United (10-14-3).
"I wasn't really thinking, 'I've got to score because of the handball,'" Harrington said. "But it was a great feeling. I found myself in the right spot. I had a good feeling at that point."
"That's the kind of reaction you want to see," Kansas City head coach Curt Onalfo said. "Basically, we're a point out of playoff position, but we've been in this situation for 16 weeks. Our players have become used to the pressure. This is how you develop players, by having them perform in games that matter."
Following Harrington's foul in the waning seconds of the first half, Cuauhtemoc Blanco converted a penalty kick to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.
Blanco's left-footer into the right side of the net beat goalkeeper Kevin Hartman for the only score registered by the Fire in three matches against the Wizards this year. It was Blanco's third penalty kick conversion in as many attempts. Blanco matched Chris Rolfe for the team lead in goals with six.
"He hit it hard, off the side of his foot," Hartman said. "That's about as hard as anybody can hit it off the side of their foot. I went the right way on it, but he hit it so hard there wasn't much I could do. We still didn't get down about it. It put us a little off tilt, but we knew we had 45 minutes ahead of us and we would get an opportunity to get back into the game."
Chicago (12-9-6) earned one point and remained third in the Eastern Conference with 42 points.
The Wizards have played the Fire tough all season, posting two ties and registering a 1-0 victory earlier this year. Chicago has won just two of their last seven matches, going 2-4-1 during that span.
"We continue to have very good position to control our destiny towards the playoffs," Fire coach Denis Hamlett said. "We'll just have to keep working and get ready for the very best team in the MLS in Columbus."
KANSAS CITY 1 FINAL
Oct 5 5:01 PM
- MLS UPDATE
KANSAS CITY 1
CHICAGO SUBSTITUTION: Marco Pappa for Chris Rolfe
in the 90th minute
Oct 5 4:58 PM
- MLS UPDATE
KANSAS CITY 1
KANSAS CITY GOAL: Michael Harrington in the 48th minute
Fire 1, Sporting Kansas City 1 2nd - 48'Oct 5 4:12 PM
KANSAS CITY 0 HALFTIME
Oct 5 3:56 PM
- MLS UPDATE
KANSAS CITY 0
CHICAGO PENALTY GOAL: Cuauhtemoc Blanco in the 45th minute
Fire 1, Sporting Kansas City 0 2nd - 90'Oct 5 3:56 PM
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