First half chances from Dominic Oduro, Marco Pappa and Diego Chaves went begging as the Chicago Fire drew 0-0 with Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday night at Toyota Park. With the tie, the Fire extend their unbeaten streak to three matches and move to 1-3-4 with seven points through eight matches. The usual good, bad and the ugly is after the break.
Again, the Fire extended their unbeaten streak to three games. The defense worked. The Chicago Fire had their first clean sheet of the year. I'm sure many people are down after the game but the fact of the matter is the Fire shut out a MLS squad in 90 minutes of play. Josip Mikulic played the entire game and looked good. Concerns about Mikulic being a fragile player can go away at least for now. Mikulic's health might be the best news to come out of tonight's game. The entire defensive line played well together. Jon Conway single handily did his part to preserve the point for the Fire when he stopped Eric Hassil cold on a dangerous Hassil one on one in the second half. Daniel Paladini and Corben Bone looked better in the midfield and the Fire dominated possession throughout the game.
Again, the Fire extended their unbeaten streak to three games. The Whitecaps are an expansion team at the bottom of the Western Conference. The Fire are supposed to win these games at home. Chicago may not have lost in three games but they haven't won in six games either. Drawing with a team of Vancouver's quality does not bode well for a team's killer instinct. Sean Johnson did not make the bench and it had something to do with his arm. Patrick Nyarko's 'illness' might be vision related. That's not something you want to hear for a guy who has had concussion problems in the past.
Dominic Oduro in the 32nd minute. Marco Pappa in the 36th minute. Diego Chaves in the 44th minute. A couple of other times here and there throughout the game. As much as the defense worked for the first time tonight, the offensive finishing did not. Oduro, Pappa, and Chaves all blew their chances with Chaves hitting the goal post in the 44th minute being the best. Chaves and Pappa were simply off. Oduro, look people, there's a reason why Houston traded him for Calen Carr who is still suffering with concussion problems. Oduro's lack of finishing has plagued him all his career. He is one of the fastest players in any game and his speed will put him in positions no one else on the team could be in. Sometimes the odds of him scoring goals are just as low as another player in a 'regular' position. You take the good with the bad and sometimes it looks very ugly.
We knew that the 2011 Chicago Fire was going to be a work in progress from the beginning. The weakest link has been the defense and that is getting more confident and regular. It looks like we have a starting back line of Anibaba, Cuesta, Mikulic, and Segares. The team can pull points in back to back games despite having 'backups' Corben Bone, Daniel Paladini and Jon Conway starting. If anyone playing up top is playing a better game tonight, the Fire would have left Toyota Park with three points. While there was nothing to celebrate over, there's nothing to throw the towel in for either. Chicago travels to Toronto next week to take on another struggling Canadian MLS team. If the Fire lose next week, we'll have more to complain about. For now, it is a wait and see period.
Game Summary & Highlight Video
Chicago Fire: Jon Conway; Jalil Anibaba, Josip Mikulic, Yamith Cuesta, Gonzalo Segares; Daniel Paladini; Dominic Oduro, Gaston Puerari (Bratislav Ristic 84'), Corben Bone (Baggio Husidic 74'), Marco Pappa ©; Diego Chaves
Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Jay Nolly; Jonathan Leathers, Greg Janicki, Mouloud Akloul, Alain Rochat; Davide Chiumiento, Terry Dunfield ©, Gershon Koffie, Blake Wagner (Shea Salinas 58'); Eric Hassli, Camilo (Nizar Khalfan 72')
CHI - Josip Mikulic (caution; Tactical Foul) 4'
VAN - Jonathan Leathers (caution; Reckless Behavior) 7'
VAN - Davide Chiumiento (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 61'
CHI - Diego Chaves (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 61'
CHI - Daniel Paladini (caution; Tactical Foul) 76'
CHI - Baggio Husidic (caution; Reckless Tackle) 83'