New York Red Bulls 3 Kaku 8’, White 59’, Royer 90’+3
Chicago Fire 1 Nikolic 81’
“When you’re in a hole, stop digging.”
That’s the old saying, right? If you’re in the middle of a bad situation, your first job is to not make things worse.
But that’s not how the Chicago Fire Soccer Club does business.
I have to give the Fire credit for not exactly following the script. They started to fall apart much earlier in the game.
After spending the opening five or so minutes laying siege to Luis Robles’ goal— coming close to opening the scoring at least twice— the Men In Red proceeded to concede in one of the stupidest plays of the season. Kenneth Kronholm, running right up to the edge of the box to collect a backpass from Bastian Schweinsteiger, made a terrible touch that sent the ball directly to Kaku, who rounded the keeper and easily slotted into an empty net. 1-0 Red Bulls.
Some of the air was let out of Chicago’s tires after the goal. Aleksandar Katai did what he could to keep up the pressure, but for the most part this was the same Fire team we’ve been watching all season. Some good moments, some good numbers, some good beginnings of play, but nothing that ever comes together.
So it was that the Fire tried and failed through the rest of the half to get back on level terms. They went into halftime down a goal but up on moral victories.
The second half started much the same— the Fire doing well in the build-up but missing the finishing touch. Katai came close to equalizing early in the half but was denied by a spectacular save by Robles.
Soon after, RBNY got a quick counterattack going that ended with Brian White finishing from close range. 2-0 RBNY.
Whatever fight Chicago had left seemed to go out. The Red Bulls were content to see the game out and the Fire had resigned themselves to yet another loss.
A bit of dumb luck late in the game offered a modicum of dignity. Katai’s shot from outside the box hit the post and rebounded right at second-half substitute Nemanja Nikolic, who tapped in for an easy goal. 2-1.
The Fire got some life back in them after their goal, but not enough to overwhelm New York’s defenses. Midway through stoppage time, Daniel Royer settled the matter for good with RBNY’s third goal on the night.
This was a “must win” game for the Fire. Not a “must have more possession.” Not “must make more shots.” Not “must show some positives.” They had to win, and they didn’t. This season is a failure and it’s not even July yet. And the worst part is that no one is going to be held accountable.
The offseason is still more than three months away. Pace yourselves.
The Chicago Fire (4W 7D 7L, 19pts, 8th place) are back home on Wednesday night when they take on Atlanta United.