Chicago Fire 2 Mihailovic 28’, Sapong 63’
Columbus Crew 2 Zardes 47’, Williams 90’
About an hour before kickoff, a sudden and violent downpour exploded outside my window. I don’t live too far from SeatGeek Stadium these days, so for a moment I wondered if maybe the game would be postponed due to inclement weather.
It was the happiest I felt all night.
Before kickoff, Ruben pointed out that Calvo was being deployed as a fullback— which was one of the reasons he became unhappy with Minnesota United. “So things are going great.”
The Fire did at least manage to not concede within the first minute of the game this time. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice. That’s about the kindest thing about the Fire’s play through the opening phases of the first half, which they largely spent turning the ball over to Columbus and then desperately scrambling to recover from that mistake. As the half progressed, the Fire started to threaten Columbus with a series of corner kicks; nothing came of it, but it was something.
The breakthrough came just before the half hour mark and, shockingly, gave the home side the advantage. In a cloudburst of individual effort, Djordje Mihailovic chested down a pass on the edge of the box and hit his own half volley, sending it careening past Joe Bendik and into the back of the net. 1-0.
The first goal comes off the foot of @DjoMihailovic! #CHIvCLB pic.twitter.com/rlD3btvb8u— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 18, 2019
The momentum definitely shifted in Chicago’s favor after the goal. The home side started applying more pressure to Bendik and the Crew’s backline. The Fire maintained control through the rest of the half and took their slim lead into the halftime break. So far, so good.
It took less than two minutes into the second half for all that momentum to go to waste. Dax McCarty gave the ball away in the middle of the pack, sparking a quick swarming attack which Gyasi Zardes finished from close range to equalize in the 47th minute. 1-1.
From there the game settled into that old familiar Whatevering feeling. Some poking, some prodding, some breaks for injuries, but otherwise this took on the patina of a boring low-stakes midweek match-up.
At least until the hour mark. Nico Gaitán nearly scored off a rude bicycle kick that went off the post, but the Fire recovered the rebound and managed to get it to CJ Sapong, who hit a sneaky side-footer from near the penalty spot. 2-1!
.@BigAfrika88 restores the lead for the @ChicagoFire! #CHIvCLB pic.twitter.com/CXX1NY9WMU— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 18, 2019
The Fire were good to maintain some pressure after the goal. Nothing truly threatening materialized, but the more time spent near Columbus’ goal, the less time spent near Chicago’s goal.
Which was a good thing, because Kenneth Kronholm is, uh. He needs work. A mishandled cross nearly gave Columbus another equalizer, with Johan Kappelhof needing to act quickly to clear it off the line. It would’ve been very like this team to play reasonably well and then piss away a lead on one stupid mistake.
That moment aside, the Fire managed to more or less keep a handle on the game. Despite moving to a 5-man backline, Chicago still created some opportunities going forward, owing to rapid movement from out wide from Katai and Przemysław Frankowski. It looked like the Fire might actually pull it off.
And then Romario Williams headed in the equalizer in the literal 90th minute.
So that’s where we’re at. We played two of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference, at home, within the same week, and we got exactly one (1) point. You can’t even really be mad at this team, any more than you can be mad at a skunk for smelling foul. It’s just what they are.
The Chicago Fire (5W 8D 9L, 23pts, 10th place) will have to get it together quickly as they travel to Philadelphia on Saturday.