BRIDGEVIEW - For the fifth time this season, the Chicago Fire found themselves on the wrong end of a clean sheet, being kept off the scoresheet once again in Saturday afternoon's 1-0 defeat to the visiting Philadelphia Union.
The Fire (2-6-1, 7 points) controlled large portions of the match, creating more opportunities than the visiting Union (4-3-3, 15 points) and possessing the ball nearly 60 percent of the match.
The difference between the two sides, however, was the finishing of Jack McInerney, who scored the game's lone goal -- and his seventh this season -- in the 75th minute.
In the words of Fire head coach Frank Klopas, the loss was a bit of a head scratcher.
"You look at games like this and you just scratch your head at how we lost," Klopas said after the match. "We came out, we had good energy with the ball, we had chances in the first half. We didn't score. Second half, we had more possession and more chances, we pushed the game. And then there's bad call -- not even a foul -- we fall asleep. They have a quick restart and score a goal.
"Obviously, it's frustrating in games like this, but that's soccer. You scratch your head at times, but I thought we played well enough to not lose, but to get the three points as well."
The goal came as a result of solid awareness by the Union. Coming off an Austin Berry foul, second half substitute Sebastien Le Toux played a quick restart over the top to McInerney, who held off Jalil Anibaba before deflecting his shot in off Sean Johnson to give Philadelphia all three points.
"We just fell asleep," Berry said of the play. "I fouled someone, they played it quick, and [McInerney] finished well. He's a player who seems pretty opportunistic because of his hard work and good positioning. He had one good chance in the game, and he took it."
McInerney's league-leading seventh goal of the season is one more than the entire number of goals scored by the Fire, who had good goal-scoring opportunities through Daniel Paladini and Patrick Nyarko, who hit the post, in each half.
However, Klopas is confident the team's goal-scoring problem lies with finishing, not chance creation.
"It would be different if we were not creating chances," Klopas said. "If you look at the game today, we had possession, shots on goal... We had chances, and I think that's a positive thing, but you need to finish. When you have five, six, seven (chances), it would be nice if you got a couple of goals."
Nyarko started as the main striker in place of Sherjill MacDonald, who missed the match due to contracting strep throat, according to Klopas. Nyarko said after the match the team is "unlucky" to not be scoring.
"I don't like making excuses, but I thought we played well. We're just on a bad run," he said. "It's just not falling for us. I keep saying this, but I'm confident we can turn it around with every game. Games keep passing by, but I'm a pretty optimistic guy, so I feel like we'll turn it around."
Next up for the Fire is a return match in Philly, followed a trip to Rio Tinto Stadium when they play Real Salt Lake. The rematch takes place at 6:30 PM CT. The Men in Red will square off against RSL at 8 p.m. CT.
When asked what the biggest difference was from last season to this one, Klopas said the absence of veteran centerback Arne Freidrich.
"I think one of things for sure is you're missing Arne in the back. Hundred percent," Klopas said. "You miss his ability to communicate, his ability over 90 minutes to dictate the backline when to move up and stay connected to the team. He's another guy that's very good with his feet who plays the right balls at the right time. You miss a guy like Arne and his leadership in the back, and you can see that on a play like today."