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End of the Road: Fire finish road trip with 1-0 loss to Red Bulls

After a fairly lively first half with a handful of counter attack chances, the Fire faded badly in the second half and surrendered a goal to finish their three-game road trip with zero points.

Lloyd Sam and the Red Bulls did enough to down the Fire despite only one shot on goal.
Lloyd Sam and the Red Bulls did enough to down the Fire despite only one shot on goal.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

It looked OK for a minute.

With David Accam back in the starting lineup, the Chicago Fire showed signs of life in the first half despite having less than 30 percent of the possession. But that large possession edge eventually wore down the Men in Red who faded badly in the second half and gave up a Mike Grella goal in the 58th minute to seal their fate.

The loss put an end to a devastating road trip that saw the team take zero points out of nine and only put two shots on target in the last two games (both of which came Wednesday in New York).

For fans grasping for straws of hope as the team rolls back into Toyota Park Saturday to take on Houston, the first half Wednesday was a pleasant reminder of how much Accam can make a difference. The speedy winger tormented New York in a multitude of ways, placing pretty passes on the feet of Kennedy Igboananike, blazing past defenders to draw free kicks and yellow cards and rattling the wood work on an absolute beauty of a strike from roughly 30 yards out.

Unfortunately his game slowed a bit after a knee to knee collision early in the second half before he was eventually pulled in the 72nd minute for Gilberto, who struggled yet again. Joey Calistri did his best to keep some offense going after Accam's departure, but the team could barely generate a look. Calistri did account for the second shot on goal in the second half and displayed some nice chemistry with Accam a couple times, which can hopefully continue to grow.

The Fire's other shot on goal came from Razvan Cocis in the first half who got a header on a Brandon Vincent cross that eventually bounced into the arms of Luis Robles.

Chicago's defense was staunch for most of the match, especially in the first half where Vincent, Jonathan Campbell, Johan Kappelhof and Rodrigo Ramos all took turns with some important blocks or clearances. Campbell, despite playing a very strong game most of the match, committed the crucial turnover in the second half on an under hit backpass that led to the Grella goal.

Sean Johnson was finally part of that defense Wednesday, but the Milkman failed to register a save, letting New York's only shot on target get past hit outstretched arms.

It was the Fire's midfield that continued to be an issue. The three-man midfield of Cocis, Joao Meira and Khaly Thiam failed to generate much of anything. Cocis had some runs in the second half, Meira had a couple defensive moments and Thiam showed some vision early with a long pass that barely missed Calistri, but that was about it.

Meira, in fact, set up New York's best chance of the first half when he pulled down Lloyd Sam right outside the top of the box. Needless to say, he is no Matt Polster back there.

This team will continue to have battle and play ugly soccer at times to try and get results, with or without Accam. The good thing about Wednesday's game was that it showed with Accam, the club at least has a chance to create some offense.

The Fire get the gift of a home game against Houston Saturday. The Dynamo are 0-5-0 on the road this season. A loss Saturday would have to be crippling to any confidence this team might have left and awful for morale, regardless of how hard Veljko Paunovic tries to keep his men positive.