It says a lot about the Chicago Fire these days that it can spot the Columbus Crew a howler of a goal and still win 2-1.
The second-place Fire (16-8-5, 53 points) made it 4 straight victories and seven in its last eight matches with Saturday night's come-from-behind triumph in front of 19.172 at Toyota Park.
"I think that's something that we've done a lot this year," forward Chris Rolfe said. "We seem to start off decent in a game and then give up a goal and then we respond to that. It's something that we're going to have to fix, but it's still a good thing that we're able to come back from that."
The Fire players could have hung their heads after goalkeeper Sean Johnson inexplicably passed the ball to Columbus' Jairo Arrieta, who dribbled in on the embarrassed national-team goalkeeper 1-on-1 and drilled a shot into the net for a 1-0 Columbus lead in the 15th minute.
"We're all a team, and everybody knew it was an honest mistake," said Johnson, who finished with 5 saves, "and you just try to tell your teammates, my bad, it's my mistake, and you pick it up and you move forward. There's a game to play."
"In games you're going to make mistakes, and the thing is how do you react from it," coach Frank Klopas added. "I thought (Johnson) was positive. He made a big save in the end and maybe a couple of big saves. I thought he responded well. In the game you're going to make mistakes and the important thing is how do you react to them and you learn from them. As a group we felt there was a lot of game left to be played. Everyone makes mistakes."
Rolfe made no mistake with his 17-yard shot in the 23rd minute, taking a Sherjill MacDonald pass on the run and beating Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum with his second touch to tie the game.
Rolfe gave the Fire the lead just three minutes later. Midfielder Patrick Nyarko dribbled into a crowd just outside the top of the Crew penalty area and dished a short pass to Rolfe, an Ohio native who again needed just two touches to get off a shot.
"Chris scored some great goals, world-class goals," Klopas said. "The second one was just amazing, turning and putting the ball upper 90, was real class."
The Fire visits first-place Sporting Kansas City on Friday night and can take the Eastern Conference lead with another win.
Follow Orrin on Twitter @Orrin_Schwarz