The Chicago Fire snagged their first point of the year in a gritty, defensive struggle against Sporting Kansas City.
The Chicago Fire traveled to Sporting Park on Saturday to take on Sporting Kansas City in their home opener. While the Fire were still unable to get that ever elusive first goal of the season, they were able to get their first point of the season.
The opening 10 minutes saw Sporting Kansas City have the lion's share of possession, but that didn't prevent the Fire from getting a couple of chances on goal early on. The better of the chances came in the 11th minute when Chris Rolfe took a shot from the top of the penalty area on a counter attack. The shot skidded just wide of the goal post.
Sporting had a chance of their own early on as Mechack Jerome, who was replacing the injured Chance Meyers at right back, sent a low driving shot through a crowded penalty box. Sean Johnson bobbled Jerome's shot for a moment before falling on it and snuffing out any opportunity for a rebound.
The game was physical from the opening whistle. Referee Silviu Petrescu let both sides play physical early on, but he began to blow the whistle frequently as the game wore. Late in the first half, Daniel Paladini was the first of many to get booked by Petrescu. Over the course of the game, Petrescu showed yellow to six players, four of which were on the Fire. The two teams combined for a total of 34 fouls.
By the end of the first half, Sporting had a large majority of the possession, but both teams were about even on shots. This changed drastically in the second half as Kansas City took 15 shots in the second half.
The Fire spent most of the second half playing defensive and looking to counter. Almost every chance the Fire had for a counter attack died with a wayward pass. In the 78th minute, a misplaced pass from Maicon Santos ended up at the feet of Soony Saad. Saad came close to putting Kansas City ahead as he took a curling shot from distance that went just wide of the goal.
The Fire seemed to find their second wind in the 86th minute and began pressing Kansas City high up the field. Kansas City broke the pressure with an out ball to Graham Zusi, who found himself in a 1-on-1 situation with Jalil Anibaba in the penalty box. Anibaba stood his ground and Zusi decided to shoot. Fortunately for Fire fans, Zusi's shot went high.
The Chicago Fire came close to getting their first goal of the year. Chris Rolfe slid a pass into the penalty box to Daniel Paladini. Paladini was wide open with a clear view on goal, but his first touch was a little too heavy and the ball got away from him.
Five minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end of the second half. Most of the time added on came from a stoppage around the 83rd minute. Michael Vidiera, who was making his first start the Fire, appeared to hit his head as he collided with Maicon Santos. Vidiera looked shaky when he got up and ultimately had to be subbed out. Wells Thompson came on to replace Vidiera.
The Chicago Fire will be heading back home to Toyota Park next Saturday, March 24th, to take on Goats America.