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Missed Opportunity: Chicago Fire lose a chippy away match to Sporting Kansas City 1-0

The Fire’s unbeaten streak ends in Kansas

Chicago Fire FC v Sporting Kansas City
Chicago’s Robert Beric sees his penalty attempt saved by Tim Melia early in the match
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In a match where they had plenty of chances, the Chicago Fire weren’t able to convert any of them, falling to Sporting Kansas City 1-0 on the road Wednesday night at Children’s Mercy Park.

The match was choppy at times, with a number of hard fouls. There were eight yellow cards handed out in total, and both teams seemed sluggish.

“We expected a really difficult game on the road,” Fire rookie defender Mauricio Pineda said after the match. “I think we knew that from the start. We knew we had to start strong, and I think we did.”

The Fire’s best chances of the night all came in the first half, but none of them found the back of the net. After Fabian Herbers was brought down in the box in the first minute by Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia, Robert Beric hit a weak penalty to Melia’s right, which he easily saved.

Later in the first half, Herbers found himself in a dangerous spot in front of goal, but his header attempt off a Boris Sekulic cross went just wide. Not long after that, Herbers created a turnover that led to a chip attempt by Djordje Mihailovic, which hit the crossbar.

Those missed chances would come back to haunt the Fire in the second half. In the 67th minute, West Ham loanee Winston Reid was able to shake loose from Brandt Bronico on a corner kick, heading home the match-winning goal. Bronico got the start in place of Gastón Giménez, who is away on international duty for Paraguay.

Despite the loss, the Fire dominated the possession battle on the night, 57-43.

“We didn’t deserve to lose,” Raphael Wicky said after the match. “We could have taken this game. The team put a lot of effort in there, created some chances. We’re talking again after a game we lose it’s the same—we have to convert those.”

One bright point for Chicago: Johan Kappelhof played around 20 minutes, coming on for Sekulic at right back. The Dutchman is recovering from a hip flexor injury, and is working his way back to full match fitness.

“It’s good to be back,” Kappelhof said. “It was a tough time for me, personally. I think the toughest time in my career.”

Kappelhof said he’s “pretty close” to 100 percent, and could be available to start for Chicago soon. Wicky said he’ll need to monitor Kappelhof in training before giving making a decision.

With the loss, the Fire fall to 4-8-4 on the season, and remain in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, now two points out of a playoff position.

Next up, the Fire host D.C. United Sunday night at Soldier Field (6:30 p.m. CT, WGN & ESPN+). The Fire will be without their captain, Francisco Calvo, who will have to miss the match because of yellow card accumulation.

Chicago Fire FC: GK Shuttleworth, D Sekulić (F Sapong 73’), D Pineda, D Calvo ©, D Bornstein, M Mihailović (M Azira 79’), M Bronico (D Kappelhof 73’), M Medrán, M Aliseda (F Collier 79’), F Herbers (M Frankowski 58’), F Berić

Subs not used: D Omsberg, D Reynolds II, M Gutiérrez, GK Sparrow

Sporting Kansas City: GK Melia, D Zusi (D Lindsey 21’), D Puncec, D Reid, D Dia, M Espinoza (F Salloi HT), M Sánchez, M Busio (M Hernandez 69’), F Russell (F Hurtado 87’), F Kinda, F Shelton

Subs not used: GK Pulskamp, D Fontas, D Smith, M Duke, F G. Fernandes