When losing becomes a habit, teams sometimes invent new ways to lose. I'm pretty sure that is what is happening to the Chicago Fire.
The Fire chalked up another road loss Wednesday, falling 2-1 to the MLS-leading Colorado Rapids. Generally there is no shame in walking away empty handed against the league's first-place team on the road, but Wednesday's match was a missed opportunity for Chicago.
Chicago never seemed poised to break the road winless streak, but a point was never out of the question. Despite only generating six shots and two on goal, the Fire prevented Colorado from getting too many clean looks of their own. In fact, it was rookie Joey Calistri's goal in the 81st minute that was the cleanest of the bunch.
But the Rapids got on the board first after an uneventful first half. Rapids forward Kevin Doyle, spurned by the Irish national team for the Euros, displayed some goal scoring "prowess" in the 57th minute when he "beat" Sean Johnson. I put these words in quotes because they are not really true.
You see, Doyle tried taking a pass from Dillon Powers and making an individual run to the box. It was going pretty well but Joao Meira was draped on him pretty closely and Jonathan Campbell was in the vicinty. Doyle connected with his right foot and barely got the shot around Meira. Johnson, who may have been partially screened, inexplicably had the ball deflect off him and into the net.
Johnson probably makes that save 95 to 99 out of 100 times. He picked a bad time to let that in.
But the Fire actually had a response on the road! The young Calistri scored his first MLS goal after some nice team buildup by Chicago. The play started when Accam, standing at the top of the box, sent a looping cross to the back post. Rodrigo Ramos, who had a good game throughout, got on the end of the pass and headed it straight down the middle. Calistri gathered the pass, made a very veteran touch in a tight area to get a better look and slotted his shoot past a diving Zac MacMath.
With the game tied with only 9+ minutes to go, the Fire seemed destined for a draw. But then those uneasy feelings started creeping in. In my game preview, I predicted a 2-0 victory for the Rapids with Marco Pappa and Dillon Serna scoring the goals. Neither were on the field when Calistri scored.
Then in the 83rd minute, Pappa came on. In the 85th, Serna came on. Needless to say, I was not thrilled. Sure enough, in the 89th minute, Pappa made a casual run in the attacking half, took a non-threatening shot and still somehow scored. Pappa's shot was unfortunately deflected by Campbell, who stuck his leg out hip high in an effort to knock the ball down. But the ball deflected up and a diving Johnson couldn't get a hand on it.
The Rapids locked up the 2-1 victory with two of the more unimpressive goals I've seen this year.
But it's hard to complain about the result when the team doesn't generate enough to threaten. Other than a nice save by MacMath on Accam in the second half, the Fire's offense was toothless. They had the same amount of shot attempts as a team as Doyle did individually. And despite an 81 percent passing accuracy, the team's passing lacked where it mattered, falling to 63 percent in the attacking half and 44 percent in the final third.
Until the Fire starts putting more pressure on the other team, they cannot expect many if any of the breaks to go their way.
The Fire get an angry Philadelphia team in Philadelphia on Wednesday. The Union will want to bounce back from Saturday's defeat to NYCFC and their earlier loss to the Fire as well as fighting for that first place spot. It will be another tough match where breaking the road winless streak seems out of reach.