Crescendo: Fire Tie Montreal, 1-1, For Fifth Straight Draw

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago's continued improvement not enough to garner first win of 2014

So, if you start a number sequence with the numbers '1' and '5,' what's the next number? Again, Chicago were the better team for the balance of play; again, the Fire created chances in bunches; and again, a tiny failure at a crucial moment were enough to cost the team the win.

Chicago's sister-kissing regimen to start the 2014 season is starting to reach epic proportions, as the Fire fought to a 1-1 draw with Montreal on the rock-hard Olympic Stadium turf. Quincy Amarikwa's goal in the 55th minute levelled it after Jack McInerney opened his account for his new team in the 42nd.

Here's to hoping the next number in that sequence is something awesome - nine? 15? While we're at it, let's make them wins, and all this sorta-almost failure will seem like the great crescendo of history.

For the second match in a row, Chicago came away with a single point after dominating the game from the run of play. Montreal were consistently dangerous on the break, though, leveraging the insidious genius of Marco Di Vaio by constantly running behind the Fire back line. Far more of the attacking play came through the Men in Red, though - the home side managed only six shots, while the Fire rifled off 17; Chicago sliced in 10 corner to the Impact's three.

Until Harrison Shipp tired around the 60th minute, he and Mike Magee played the kind of two-man games in space that Montreal fans imagine Di Vaio and McInerney playing, and their astute geometries sprung Nyarko for slashing dribbling runs into the heart of the defense.

Amarikwa knotted the game on a sequence typical of the game's flow. The Fire had spent most of the previous five minutes camped in Montreal's end, probing along the flanks and recovering the clearances to try again, and won a couple of corners. On the second, Shipp's deep inswinger was steered across goal by Jeff Larentowicz, where Magee corralled it and hooked an awkward cross back where it came. Amarikwa responded brilliantly, stabbing the ball past Troy Perkins: 1-1, and all to play for.

The best chance of the dying game fell to Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, who somehow managed to miss a header at a wide-open goal - vacated by Perkins in a judgement error - in the 79th. Several substitutes couldn't spark the game into another gear, and the official blew the proceedings to an end before the end of posted stoppage time.

The Fire could be forgiven feeling hard done by the first 45 minutes. Chicago's attack, spurred by Magee and Shipp's intelligent interchanging, threatened the Montreal goal routinely, with many of the moves resolving in a sudden burst by Nyarko. Magee couldn't do much with the Ghanaian's near-post feed in the 10th, and Nyarko's twisting volley in the 37th was blocked out for a corner, but in those and multiple other situations in the first half, the Fire's movement had the Impact grasping at shadows.

The best chance of the half fell to the feet of Larentowicz. In the 35th minute, with the game still scoreless, Nyarko cut infield and found Palmer still wide on the right in acres of space. Palmer's low cross skidded along the horrid Olympic Stadium turf, getting past Quincy Amarikwa's near-post run to find the captain, unmarked, on the back post. Larentowicz's non-finish from five yards sailed well high.

Perhaps the Fire's success keeping the ball lulled them into a false sense of security, or maybe Di Viao is just that good. In any case, all it took was one poor clearance - Hurtado's half-way header near midfield - and the cold-eyed Italian added another scalp to his collection. Di Viao's brilliant one-touch through ball put Jack McInerney behind the Chicago defense for the first time in the day, and the 21-year-old American made no mistake, hammering a low finish that Sean Johnson touched but couldn't save.

The Impact, now playing purely on the counter, nearly added a second in the dying moments of the half. Justin Mapp pounced on a half-cleared corner and streamed forward. McInerney's attempt to return the favor to Di Vaio was narrowly nicked away by Alex, saving the Fire the indignity of going into the break two goals down.

Chicago (0-5-1) host New England next Saturday.

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