Sporting Kansas City 1 Croizet 14’
One of the worst things about being a fan of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club is that you get to a point where you stop expecting anything better.
I don’t know why I held out even modest hope of the Fire capitalizing on their shock beatdown win over Atlanta United in midweek. I don’t know why even a small part of me thought they could at least get a draw, and maybe even a win. I don’t know why I ever thought the turning point would be now. Or that there would be a turning point this season.
At some point you just have to own up to what this team actually is. And doing that hurts. But it would hurt either way, probably.
I’ll admit that my heart skipped a beat when the lineup was announced.
Grant Lillard was in the Starting XI.
Whatever else happened tonight, I was happy.
And that’s important for any fan, really. You have to find small morsels of joy wherever you can with this team. They’re oh so fleeting, and you’ll never be able to hang on to them for long, but you need to find them and hold them where and when you’re able. So it was that the joy of seeing Lillard in the lineup lasted all of 14 minutes into the game, when yet another Kenneth Kronholm error cost the Fire. Yohan Croizet capitalized on Kronholm rushing way out into No Man’s Land to bag the opening goal for the hosts.
But it wasn’t just the early conceded goal. Early on it became clear that the team that beat Atlanta on Wednesday did not make their flight to KC for tonight.
The Fire showed some faint signs of life in the first half— Nico Gaitán’s near-miss just after the half-hour mark stands out— but never enough to give them a material advantage. They went into halftime down a goal and looking short on ideas.
Things didn’t improve much in the second half. Chicago caught a few lucky breaks but couldn’t convert. KC nearly made it 2-0 just before the hour mark when Felipe Gutiérrez shot wide of an empty net from close range. This was going to get worse for the Fire before it got better.
“Worse,” in this case, turned out to be a lethargic and borderline apathetic performance. KC didn’t have to work too hard to fend off Chicago, and the Fire didn’t demonstrate much of a sense of urgency.
By the end of the 90, the Fire were getting bad ref calls and picking fights with SKC players. Bastian Schweinsteiger looked like he wanted to stab people. (Basti did get a late yellow card and will miss next week’s game due to accumulation.) It was a mess. A boring, stupid mess.
Needless to say, the Fire failed to get back in it or even so much as threaten an equalizer. SKC held on for the 1-0 win. Chicago fly back home as the same team we’ve been watching all season— listless, disorganized, and doomed to come up short.
The Chicago Fire (5W 7D 8L, 22pts, 9th place) are back at home next Saturday when they host FC Cincinnati.