MLS produces bizarre, one-off results more often than most other leagues. But heading into Saturday night’s match between the Columbus Crew and the Chicago Fire—the final game ever at Crew Stadium—it was hard to predict any other result than a Columbus victory.
And yet, the Fire somehow still managed to disappoint.
Despite dominating possession with 59%, completing more than 82% of their passes, and producing 14 shots, the Fire put zero of those shots on target, losing the game 2-0.
“When we get into the final third, I feel like we lack a couple of runs, a little creativity, maybe a lucky punch,” Fire midfielder Fabian Herbers said after the match. “Zero shots on goal, that’s just not dangerous enough. If you want to score goals, you gotta shoot on the goal.”
Defensively, Chicago gave up two weak first half goals. Columbus struck first in the 17th minute after the Fire failed to clear a corner, and the ball fell right in front of Gyasi Zardes in the six yard box, who slotted it into the bottom right corner.
The Crew doubled the lead in the 34th minute, when Zardes struck again. A 60-yard long ball over the top fell to Derrick Etienne, who was barely kept onside by Fire defender Carlos Terán, making his first appearance of 2021. After goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth stormed out, Etienne slipped the ball to Zardes, who was so wide open he could have dribbled it into the net.
“Suddenly, we lost a little bit of the passion, a little bit of the fire, a little bit of the urgency to win duels, to win challenges, to win second balls, and that’s the base of football,” Fire coach Raphael Wicky said. “That was the talk at halftime. You can talk tactics all you want, but you have to do the dirty work first.”
“I didn’t feel that on the field, but obviously when you’re 2-0 down after 45 minutes, it’s hard to argue,” Herbers said of Wicky’s comments.
The match could have turned out very differently, though. Early in the game, Crew winger Derrick Etienne was lucky to get away with a yellow card after he appeared to strike Fire defender Miguel Navarro in the face.
“I was right there,” Wicky said. “I don’t want to look for excuses, but for me, I don’t know what you have to do to get a red card. He was going right into the face of the player... I just think that if you want to educate kids to do sports, fair play, then you can not show them images like that and not punish them, sanction them. If we say, okay, you can do this, this is just a yellow, you can go into other players’ face voluntarily, then I think we’re on the wrong path. In saying that, we didn’t show up for a big portion of the first half.”
The Fire begin a four game homestand on Wednesday against another struggling side, FC Cincinnati. That one begins at 7 p.m.
Chicago Fire FC: GK Shuttleworth, D Sekulić (D Espinoza 58’), D Terán, D Calvo ©, D Navarro, M Pineda, M Herbers, M Aliseda, M Medrán (M Collier 83’), M Gutiérrez (M Stojanović HT), F Offor (F Berić HT)
Subs not used: GK Slonina, D Bornstein, D Omsberg, D Kappelhof, M Monis
Columbus Crew SC: GK Bush, D Williams, D Mensah ©, D Fraser, M Nagbe, M Santos (D Abdul-Salaam 87’), M Matan (M Francis 63’), M Zelarayan, M Etienne Jr. (Molino 70’), M Afful, F Zardes
Subs not used: GK Lampson, D Wormgoor, D Lillard, D Keita, M Parente, M Hairston
Stats Summary: CLB / CHI
Shots: 14 / 14
Shots on Goal: 2 / 0
Passing Accuracy: 78.9% / 82%
Saves: 0 / 0
Corners: 4 / 3
Fouls: 13 / 7
Total passes: 332 / 495
Offsides: 1 / 0
Possession: 41.1% / 58.9%