Losing is never fun, and it always means, on some level, your team failed. But there are degrees of losses. Some are disastrous (the Chicago Fire’s 5-1 loss to Nashville comes to mind). Some are confusing (the 2-1 loss to Toronto FC, where the Fire had 31 shots). Some are infuriating (take your pick this season, but the 2-0 loss early in the season to the Red Bulls is up there).
But some are respectable. Not ideal, but fine. For the Fire, Wednesday night’s 1-0 loss to New York City FC at Yankee Stadium would probably fall under that category. After winning two straight, the Fire put out a solid defensive effort against NYCFC, conceding only a penalty kick after a mental lapse foul by Federico Navarro. The Fire out-possessed the better side, and they created a few chances, but none found their way past Sean Johnson.
Not ideal, but at this point after a broken season, not the end of the world, either.
“I think overall, I felt I was proud of the guys because I think they left everything on the field,” interim head coach Frank Klopas said after the match. “You know, we competed hard all the way to the end, and I was extremely proud that we did not give up a second goal. I mean, that was huge.”
Captain Jonathan Bornstein agreed.
“To be honest I’m extremely proud of the group,” Bornstein said. “I think although we gave up a PK that leads to a loss, 1-0, I think the team has been progressively doing a lot better, and a really positive feeling within the group over the last few games.
“And I think tonight, guys left it all out on the field going down 1-0, we still tried to push the game and come back into it. Have that late, late header with Luka (Stojanovic) that maybe if it goes in one of the sides, it’s a goal. But extremely proud of the group. I think we’ve been fighting, battling, and you know, we never put our arms down and we never give up. Trying to finish the season off strong. That’s the most important thing.”
Klopas said Stojanovic was undergoing concussion protocol after banging heads with an NYCFC defender late in the match. Federico Navarro had a hamstring issue, and Gaston Gimenez tweaked his ankle in the match. There’s no word yet on the severity of any of the injuries.
Next, and Last
The Fire have a little break before they head to Columbus to play their final game of the 2021 season Nov. 7 against the Crew. The club has said Klopas is not a candidate for the head coaching job next season, meaning this could be his final game ever in charge of the Fire.
“I think the sad thing is, I think about the players, you know, because at the end of the day, for some of us, that will be the last time that we will be together as a group,” Klopas said. “This sport has brought us together from different countries from all over the world, and even though that might be the last game that we play together, the friendships will last forever and I think that’s the important thing.
“So my message would be to the guys: If that is the last time that that group will be together, let’s make it a memorable one. Let’s make it a memorable one. We are going to go prepare to go out there and get three points, and if we don’t get the three points, I know, and this will be my message; and the guys know where I come from, is that we will put everything into it to try to get the three points. That’s all that’s on my mind. Not about me; I think about the players.”