Chicago Fire 1 Nikolic (pen) 84’
Vancouver Whitecaps 1 Reyna 53’
It’s a question Fire fans have been asking almost every year for the better part of the decade. How long does this bullshit go on? How long do we accept mediocrity and business as usual with this team? How long do we wait until things actually, measurably get better.
I’m sure as hell asking that question right now. How long are we supposed to sit through games like this and then try to focus on positives? Why does this have to be Good Enough?
Because I am contractually obligated to say this: Ruben was right. He correctly guessed the lineup in the preview yesterday. He was right. Thank you, Ruben.
Anyway: Nico Gaitán with his first start! Huzzah!
The Fire did well enough through the opening minutes, keeping the ball and applying pressure going forward. But they also frequently left themselves open in the back, particularly up the middle; were Vancouver a better team, they might’ve taken advantage. As it was, the Fire were able to lay siege to the Whitecaps net, with Nemanja Nikolic and Bastian Schweinsteiger combining to nearly get the opening goal in the 12th minute.
But the big story of the early part of the game was Gaitán, whose passing and movement off the ball is were already making the Fire look like a different team.
Chicago kept pushing through the first half. Katai hit a gorgeous curling shot inside the box in the 31st minute, denied only by last-second heroics by Maxime Crépeau.
But for all the Fire’s pressure and forward momentum, they couldn’t get any payoff. 0-0 at the half.
The second half started fine. The Fire looked to continue as they started. And then David Ousted made a stupid, stupid mistake, coming well off his line to smother a ball that a defender could’ve easily dealt with, then losing control of the ball, and gifting the opening goal to Yordy Reyna. 0-1.
#VWFC take the lead through @yordy_10!#CHIvVAN https://t.co/gJWdFV843b— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 13, 2019
The Fire then proceeded to completely fall apart. They were panicky. They gave up the ball too easily. Shots went wildly off-course. Something needed to change, and quickly.
Eventually the panic subsided, and the Fire started pushing forward, but there was nothing to suggest that an equalizer was forthcoming. It really looked like we were going to lose to fucking Vancouver.
And then, somehow, the Soccer Gods cut us some goddamn slack for once.
A handball in the box— confirmed by VAR— gave Chicago a penalty, which was duly converted by Niko. 1-1.
We're level in Chicago as @niko_nemanja converts from the spot! #CHIvVAN https://t.co/6jCN39hLDe— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 13, 2019
There was the usual late scramble chaos from both teams in the dying minutes of the game. None of it changed anything. The whistle blew at 1-1.
Once again, the Fire have an opportunity to pick up points and make a statement, and what they deliver again is one big juicy shart. We can talk about all the subtle measures of progress all day, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t put points on the board. I want to believe in this team. But right now, it’s just not good enough.
The Chicago Fire (1W 3D 2L, 6pts) are back at it next Saturday at home when they take on the Colorado Rapids.