For another team on another night, Wednesday’s 2-2 home draw could be described as frustrating.
The open net Luis Solignac missed in the 53rd minute is the kind of error that could end a season in a big match to make the playoffs or even advance. Teams at that level can’t pass on such an easy chance to go up 3-1 and ice a game.
But the Fire is not that team and they are not in that situation. Solignac’s miss was disappointing but it was a mere hiccup in a run of now two games where the team has shown ambition and improvement. For this Fire team, Wednesday’s 2-2 home draw was an overall bright spot and a step forward.
Honestly, there was so much action in the final 20 minutes of each half that it would be overwhelming to cover it all. And just because there was end-to-end action during those stretches does not mean it was always skillful. But it was entertaining.
After an uneventful first 25 minutes or so, the Los Angeles Galaxy opened the scoring in the 31st minute courtesy of Jelle Van Damme and Gyasi Zardez. Van Damme made a powerful run up the middle into the box before passing to an outlet on his left and receiving a return cross. Van Damme headed down the return cross to an unmarked Zardes at the top of the box who easily finished his chance. Van Damme was actually covered well on the play but just won the fight for the header and unfortunately the swarm around Van Damme left Zardes open.
The Fire responded in a big way to the goal, pressuring the Galaxy relentlessly for the rest of the half.
David Accam started things quick with a good chance in the 33rd minute that was saved by Clement Diop. The Galaxy would not be so lucky a minute later when Arturo Alvarez was the benefactor of a loose ball in the box that spilled out to him. Alvarez struck it hard and accurately from the top left corner of the box to beat Diop and level the game.
After the Fire scored their goal, they kept pushing as if they had just conceded. Accam had another tremendous look minutes later but his curling strike hit off the far post and just missed going in. Solignac’s physical work would give Accam a much easier look in the 39th minute after Van Damme got Solignac’s legs from behind in the box to set up a penalty kick. Accam converted.
The second half started a bit more slowly and the Galaxy had the better of the pressure. But it would be the Fire who had the better chances. Solignac missed an absolute gimmie in the 53rd minute on a wide open net and that was followed by a disallowed goal from Michael de Leeuw who was offside on his strike off a rebound.
But then Giovani Dos Santos came on in the 60th minute and Alan Gordon came on in the 66th minute and the two created a goal in the 69th minute. Both substitutions really turned the game a bit for the Galaxy, culminating in that 69th minute goal. The goal started with Sebastian Lletget and Alan Gordon playing a little one-two before Gordon got in and found Dos Santos on a diagonal run in the box. Dos Santos finished with a spectacular goal to the top corner of the far post despite running toward the near post. It was pretty.
The Fire would get two more very good looks that Accam just couldn’t finish. The first came on a cross from John Goossens who found Accam in the box before his one-touch effort went just wide. The second came on a beautiful dummy from Solignac that set up Accam from just outside the box but again the effort went just wide.
Overall, it was very promising to see the Fire attack with purpose and create multiple chances. It is a little disappointing they could not get a full three points from a largely Galaxy reserve side, but there is nothing “reserve” about Zardes or Dos Santos who ultimately were the difference.
The trio of Solignac, Accam and de Leeuw really seem to have an understanding of how they want to play and should be a challenge for most teams the rest of the way. If Alvarez can keep up his recent form and Goossens can remain his consistent self, the attack should be fun to watch for the final 10 games of the season.
Coach Veljko Paunovic has talked about this style of soccer all year long but it never seemed the team was really close to achieving it. After these last two games, it seems players and coaches have finally found that magic formula, which is promising.
There is plenty of reason to tune in Saturday to watch them take on D.C. United. Soccer in Chicago is fun again.