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Frustration Boiling Over: Chicago Fire drop third straight, 2-0 to Philadelphia Union

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The Fire’s slump continues with a loss at Soldier Field

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Chicago Fire
Fire goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Late in stoppage time of Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union, frustration finally began boiling over for the Chicago Fire. Right back Boris Sekulic got in the face of Philly’s Sergio Santos, leaned in and nearly head-butted the Union player, who retaliated with a shove to Sekulic’s jaw.

Both men were lucky to get away with only yellow cards for the incident. But at that moment, nearly every one of the 5,000-plus Fire fans at Soldier Field felt that same frustration.

After three straight losses, and ten straight games without a win dating back to last season, it’s clear the Fire’s continuity-will-bring-wins plan just isn’t working. After the match, several Fire players appeared to have heated words with fans, who are clearly dissatisfied with the lack of success.

“I told them, try to be with us,” Fire captain Francisco Calvo said. “Nobody steps on the field and tries to lose. We don’t want to lose... Together, we’re going to get out of this.”

Through a big, point blank save by Bobby Shuttleworth, and key blocks by Sekulic, the Fire were able to weather a storm of Philadelphia chances in Chicago’s final third in the first half hour of the match. The two teams were tied at halftime, but Philadelphia was able to strike first in the 51st minute, when Cory Burke knocked home a low cross to make it 1-0.

The Union doubled the lead in the 60th minute on a goal by Jakob Glesnes, and were content to sit back after that. Raphael Wicky switched to a three-at-the-back formation which seemed to generate more chances for the Fire—including a near miss by Robert Beric from a few yards out—but nothing found the back of the net.

The Fire are now 0-3-1 on the season, with just one point in the standings. The team has been outscored 9-1 since opening the year with two quick goals against the New England Revolution. Despite the poor showings, Fire coach Raphael Wicky believes his players are still buying in to his ideas.

“It’s always easier when you win, but I don’t believe the team isn’t buying in to what we want,” Wicky said after the match. “We’re not asking anything different from last season. We tried to have continuity in the way we play, unfortunately we were hit with five or six injuries which was hard. We still have a good team on the field.”

Kiwi forward Elliot Collier, who got his first start of the season, agreed.

“100 percent,” Collier said. “I believe in the style that we’re trying to play and everything that we’re trying to do. I believe in everything that the coaches are trying to get us to play and, you know, football is a cruel game and sometimes it doesn’t work out.”

Chicago players won’t have much time to lick their wounds. The Fire visit D.C. United Thursday night (7 p.m. CT, WGN & CFFC Live), looking to break this 10 match winless streak.

Chicago Fire FC: GK Shuttleworth, D Sekulić, D Omsberg (D Espinoza 71’), D Calvo ©, D Bornstein (D Navarro 57’), M Kappelhof (M Pineda HT), M Giménez, M Frankowski, M Stojanović (M Medran 57’), M Collier (F Offor 57’), F Berić

Subs not used: GK G. Slonina, M Casas Jr., M Gutiérrez, M Monis

Philadelphia Union: GK Blake, D Wagner, D Glesnes, D Elliott, D Mbaizo (D Real 79’), M Flach, M Monteiro, M Bedoya ©, M McGlynn (M Fontana 62’), F Przybylko, F Burke (F Santos 61’)

Subs not used: GK Freese, D Collin, M Turner, M Sullivan