New England Revolution 2 Zahibo 17’, Bou 86’
Chicago Fire 1 Calvo 41’
There is such a thing as too much loss. Too much has been taken from you both - taken and taken and taken, until there’s nothing left but hope, and you’ve given that up because it hurts too much. Until you would rather die, or kill, or avoid attachments altogether, than lose one more thing.
- The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin
There was a sense that this night was going to be chock-full of bullshit when Nico Gaitán got a yellow card after 30 seconds over a nothing challenge. If it felt like a payback call after the league DisCo rescinded his suspension in midweek, well, you weren’t alone in thinking that.
The tingling of our collective bullshit-sense was justified barely 15 minutes in, when Wilfried Zahibo caught two defenders and Kenneth Kronholm ball-watching and put the hosts ahead.
The Fire didn’t play badly in the half. At times they looked decent. But, as ever this season, they lacked that final pass, that finishing instinct. They tried to do a little too much and ended up not doing anything right. All this to chase a goal after falling behind. These stories write themselves.
Chicago wouldn’t be completely hopeless heading into halftime; a 41st minute set piece goal from Francisco Calvo leveled the score and gave the Fire a bit of momentum.
Francisco Calvo finds the equalizer! #NEvCHI pic.twitter.com/7dUMTytoh1— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 25, 2019
All of a sudden, there was hope. It was faint, and fragile, but it was there.
Both teams started the second half well enough— each looking threatening at times, neither quite finding a breakthrough. The Fire had a scare about midway through the half when CJ Sapong went down hurt during a corner kick, forcing him to come off for a few minutes and submit to the concussion protocol.
Despite that, the Fire managed to hang on and stay in the game. With results around the league going the way they were, Chicago didn’t even need to win, necessarily; a draw could have put them over the red line. All they had to do was hang on.
And then Gustavo Bou put New England ahead in the 86th minute.
And that was that. The Fire’s season was finally, officially done. Whatever spark of hope we had been clinging to the past few months was, at long last, quite dead. Maybe it’s for the best. Now we can go into the last five games of the season with no expectations— which seems to be where this team thrives.
The Chicago Fire (8W 9D 12L, 33pts, 10th place) will begin their shambling to the offseason next Saturday on the road when they take on That Yellow Team.