Robert Berić broke out of his scoring drought with a goal and an assist, but the Chicago Fire squandered a 2-0 lead late to the Columbus Crew at Soldier Field Saturday afternoon. The game ended in a 2-2 draw.
Before the match, a Fire draw with the first-place Crew might have felt like one point gained. Considering the outcome—where the Fire missed golden chances late that could have wrapped up a win—this one feels more like two points dropped.
“We are not happy,” a dejected Berić said after the match. “We had the lead, 2-0, we had the game under control, and yeah, I don’t know, we don’t have this luck, I don’t know what is happening. These last couple of games, we can’t manage to win a game.”
Things looked good for Chicago early in the match. Djordje Mihailovic, who got the start over Przemyslaw Frankowski, opened the scoring, putting away a low cross from Berić in the 11th minute.
Berić doubled Chicago’s lead three minutes later, finishing another low cross from the right side of the 18 yard box, this time from Fabian Herbers. Prior to this match, Columbus had only allowed two MLS regular season goals all season. The Fire had doubled that tally, and things were looking up.
Columbus got a goal back in the 68th minute, when a Gyasi Zardes shot off a corner glanced off Fatai Alashe’s face and into the back of Chicago’s net.
A few minutes later, the Fire nearly scored when Collier used a scissors move to free himself on the left side of the box, sending an inch-perfect pass to Frankowski, who was standing three yards in front of a wide open net. Rather than shooting it straight in, Frankowski hit it to the left post, where Columbus goalkeeper Eloy Room was waiting. It was one of a couple big chances the Fire failed to convert late in the game.
“In our situation, you need wins,” Fire Head Coach Raphael Wicky said. “When, two minutes before the end, you’re still winning, and you have such big chances [missed], it doesn’t feel good.”
That missed opportunity would come back to haunt the Fire. In the 88th minute, a Columbus shot deflected off the back of Zardes’ legs, landed at his feet for a 1v1, and Zardes was able to send it past Shuttleworth to tie the match at two.
“There’s no getting around it,” said Shuttleworth, who made four saves on the day. “We’re disappointed, obviously. We’re up two goals, in control of the game, and to give away two goals like that? A bit unlucky, but we’ve got to do better.”
- Mihailovic limped off in the 22nd minute with an ankle injury, and was replaced by Collier. Wicky said Mihailovic was getting a scan, and didn’t yet know the full extent of the injury.
- CJ Sapong made his first appearance for the Fire since the 2-0 loss to Vancouver at the MLS is Back tournament on July 23. He came on for Berić in the 79th minute.
- With the point, the Fire jump to 12th in the MLS Eastern Conference standings—one point ahead of Inter Miami. Chicago plays again next Saturday, Sept. 19, when they head to Florida to face Orlando City SC (6:30 p.m. CT, WGN-TV & ESPN+).
Chicago Fire FC: GK Shuttleworth, D Sekulić, D Pineda, D Calvo ©, D Navarro (D Bornstein HT), M Mihailović (F Collier 22’), M Giménez, M Medrán, M Aliseda, M Herbers (M Frankowski 62’), F Berić (F Sapong 79’)
Subs not used: GK Sparrow, D Omsberg, D Bronico, M Azira, M Gutiérrez
Shots: 15 Shots on goal: 6 Fouls: 19 Offsides: 1 Corners: 3 Possession: 43.6%
Columbus Crew SC: GK Room, D Valenzuela, D Willaims, D Mensah, D Afful, M Alashe, M Artur, M Santos (F Adi 81’), M Etienne (M Mokhtar 75’), M Diaz (M Boateng 64’), F Zardes
Subs not used: GK Tarbell, D Cadden, D Keita, M Jimenez, M Berhalter, M Morris
Shots: 20 Shots on goal: 6 Fouls: 14 Offsides: 0 Corners: 12 Possession: 56.4%