The Chicago Fire saw their four game undefeated streak come to an end at the hands of the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night. After the teams played a scoreless first 60 minutes of the game, the Union's Michael Farfan managed to get his first MLS goal in the 63rd minute. Chicago's Bratislav Ristic committed a somewhat questionable foul that led to a dangerous free kick opportunity for the Union on the left wing by the goal box. Kyle Nakazawa took the kick by passing the ball up to Farfan near the top of the box. Farfan's shot went through a crowd and deflected into the goal. The Fire's Dominic Oduro responded just one minute later with his own goal to make it 1-1. Carlos Ruiz sent a long shot, long ball that made it just over a leaping Jon Conway in the 74th minute to give Philadelphia the 2-1 score that ended up being the final. The good, the bad and the ugly for the Fire is after the break.
Overall the defense looked pretty good. Bratislav Ristic started in Jalil Anibaba's place at RB marking the first time that someone besides Jalil started at RB all season long. Yamith Cuesta, Cory Gibbs, and Gonzalo Segares filled out the rest of the defense. Philadelphia's goals came off a deflection and Carlos Ruiz making a smokin' shot you could call a lucky strike. When a player shoots the ball in the goal from 20 yards out off a bounce, there's not much the defense can do there.
Again after going down by a goal, Chicago came roaring back when Dominic Oduro received a cross from Gonzalo Segares, used some fancy footwork to get past his defender, and knocked the ball into the net past a sliding Faryd Mondragon. Gaston Puerari came on as a substitute in the 61st minute and almost scored in the 71st minute of play when Daniel Paladini sent a ball on the ground into the box. Puerari sent a shot on target that beat Mondragon only to have it deflected away by Philadelphia's Sheanon Williams.
The Fire yet again required the other team to score before snapping into action and scoring their own goal. It is positive to see the team come back. That shows character. The inability to draw blood first or only score quick goals after the other team has scored displays a lack of urgency. Someone on the sidelines or in the locker room has to step up and say "This is not acceptable. We will come out, strike first, and win". If you wait for things to happen, sometimes they will and sometimes they will be goals like Carlos Ruiz's. When the Fire were trying to close the gap in the waning moments of the game, the team just passed the ball around like a hot potato. Everyone wanted to complete a pass, but no one wanted to take a shot and risk turning the ball over. It dangerously looked like the Fire had finally hung up their boots after a string of quasi-comebacks recently and they bailed out on trying to do anything. Ties aren't worth this much effort.
That attitude is the most ugly part of it all. We saw the team care last year when the playoffs were on the line. We saw players on the team check out once the team was close to elimination from playoff contention. Most importantly, we saw Carlos de los Cobos appear powerless to inspire the players to give it their all under dire circumstances. CDLC now has a 10-16-14 record overall as a MLS coach. If the players can't be inspired and CDLC isn't putting up wins, what's the point of him coaching?
The game in itself is the definition of a tough loss. The first goal came from a deflection for Philadelphia on a free kick that resulted from a questionable call. Their second goal was an absurd hands-down MLS Goal of the Week winner. You can't win them all. When the other team has luck and skill going their way, sometimes you just have to tip your hat and move on the next game.
On the other end, the Fire could have gone up 2-1 if Puerari's shot deflected in instead of out. A matter of inches separated the Fire between 0 points and 3 points. Unfortunately, this game does not exist in a vacuum but in the 40 regular season game cannon that make up Carlos de los Cobos' Chicago Fire career to date. Any other team, any other coach, I file this under tough loss and shake it off but the script is too familiar and CDLC teams can't seem to write a new ending. If new endings don't start getting written soon, I'm sure the front office will be writing an ending to Carlos de los Cobos' cannon mentioned above.