Chicago Fire 5 Nikolic 28’, Nikolic 40’, Bronico 78’, Gaitán 85’, Frankowski 89’
You’d think with a scoreline like that, it would have been more fun. The Chicago Fire trounced the New England Revolution, but it was the most boring blow out I’ve ever seen. The Revs came out looking like they had zero interest in playing this game. And the Fire? The Fire looked like it was a recovery training session. Nothing was smooth, or quick, or deadly. Everything was slow and relaxed. It was like they knew New England had nothing for them, and waited until they were one hundred per cent certain to score, and even then, sometimes, they didn’t.
It took too long for the Fire to score against the Revs. Nemanja Nikolic missed two one on ones with goalkeeper Matt Turner, who was making his first start. It looked once again to be one of those nights for the 2017 golden boot winner. His first one went wide less than a foot from the far post, and his second was stopped by some good positioning from the New England netminder.
It took a set piece for them to make the breakthrough. A Nico Gaitán service from the left side bounced once and under the leg of former Fire defender Jalil Anibaba, where it met the diving head of Niko.
His second also came from a set piece— this time a corner kick. It was once again Gaitán with the delivery. This time, the ball went soaring towards Bastian Schweinsteiger near the penalty spot. He headed the ball forward and down to Niko, who once again, didn’t miss.
It must be said that the defense of New England was absolutely appalling. On both set piece goals, players could be seen both not running hard or walking away from the play. Niko’s second goal looks offside for a fraction of a second, until you notice the navy blue jersey strolling forward, keeping him onside. At the end of the first half, one team was calmly in control, while the other team didn’t seem to care.
Brad Friedel made some moves coming into the second half, bringing on veterans Teal Bunbury and Juan Agudelo to try and spark a little bit of something in his squad. It worked somewhat for a while. The Revs were able to grab some possession for the first time in the game. However, they really didn’t manage to do anything significant with it. They only created two more shot attempts, and never really threatened David Ousted.
Then the Fire scored three more goals to put what little doubt there was away. The third was an absolute cracker of a goal that made this dull game worth it. Brandt Bronico came on for Niko in the 82nd minute and 6 minutes later,found himself with the ball on the left hand side, inside the box. He than did his best Aleksander Katai impersonation by giving a shimmy to brake away from his mark and put in a bender from twelve feet with his right leg. Turner had absolutely no shot.
Goals four and five came right at the end of the match. Katai and Gaitán found themselves on a break with no one in front of them but the goalkeeper. Katai shifted the ball over to Nico when Turner committed to him, and Gaitán slid the ball into an open net. Four minutes later, Frankowski finished a nice bit of football in the midfield from he, Gaitán, and Mo Adams who just played around the Revs like they were training cones.
And that was that. Game over.
But the win doesn’t feel good. The scoreline is more indicative of the quality of the Revs than of the Fire. New England are hopeless and adrift without any sense of direction and in a lot of ways the worse of the two organizations. Say what you want about Veljko Paunovic’s teams. But at least the Fire never come out playing like they don’t care.
The Revs lost this game more than the Fire won it. And that’s not what I want to see.
The Chicago Fire (3W 4D 4L, 13 pts) are back at it on Saturday at home when they take on Minnesota United.