No matter how the Chicago Fire lines up, the end result always seems to have a familiar look.
Wilmette native Chris Ritter and newcomer Grant Ward got their first MLS starts in the Fire midfield Sunday, and in an adjusted formation.
But the Fire (2-3-7, 13 points) settled for a 1-1 draw against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Toyota Park.
"I thought we played very well today," Fire coach Frank Yallop said. "I thought we had some great individual performances from a lot of the young guys playing.
"Other than one mistake, I thought we deserved to win, so it's obviously very frustrating points-wise but very encouraging performance-wise today."
The mistake was Ritter's. The rookie out of Northwestern, trying to keep his play simple, tried to pass back to defender Gonzalo Segares, a ball that Robbie Rogers picked off and crossed to a wide-open Landon Donovan for an easy goal.
That evened the score after Quincy Amarikwa earned a penalty kick and Jeff Larentowicz converted it for the Fire in the 68th minute.
"The game didn't go the way we wanted it to, and I feel a bit at fault for the 1 goal," Ritter said, "but definitely a learning experience and (I look forward to) playing more games this season to make it up."
Injuries played a role in bringing the new faces to the starting lineup, with Patrick Nyarko and Logan Pause both sidelined, as well as forward Mike Magee.
But with a busy week ahead that includes games Wednesday at altitude at Colorado and Saturday back home against Seattle, it was only a matter of time before the youngsters got their chance.
On the bright side, Yallop finally got a chance to get his first-choice back line on the field together for the first time since Segares injured his still-painful ankle March 16. Together they held dangerous Galaxy forwards Donovan and Robbie Keane to just 1 shot on goal.
Unfortunately for the Fire, it was the shot Donovan deposited into goalkeeper Sean Johnson's net in the 74th minute.
"I thought they did well," Yallop said of Segares, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Bakary Soumare and Lovel Palmer. "… I was very happy with the chances we did not give to L.A. That was important."
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