Every Chicago Fire fan has heard this one before.
Chicago outshot (18-11), out-passed (481-396) and out-possessed (54.5-45.5) Orlando City Saturday night at Exploria Stadium. But the Fire couldn’t find the back of the net, and a defensive lapse gave Orlando a 1-0 win, and all three points.
“Big frustration again,” Raphael Wicky said after the match. “Yeah, it’s very frustrating because we played a really good away game. I think we controlled a big stretch of the game away against a good team, a team that normally dominates a lot of games. We had our chances and we get punished by one mistake.”
That one mistake came in the 51st minute, when Fire defender Mauricio Pineda was attacking a huge gulf of space in front of him, but didn’t see Orlando forward Tesho Akindele sneaking up behind him. Akindele dispossessed Pineda and the ball fell to Orlando’s Benji Michel, who slotted a low shot past Bobby Shuttleworth.
The Fire had a few chances to find an equalizer, especially late, but fell short again on the road. The Fire are now winless in their last 18 road matches dating back to October 2019—10 last season, and 8 so far this season.
With four more away games left on this trip, and 9 of the team’s 13 remaining games away from home, the Fire will have to find ways to take three points on the road to have any chance to make the playoffs. The Fire are now 12th in the East, seven points out of the final playoff spot.
“We simply have to take it as if it hasn’t happened,” said Álvaro Medrán. “We know we struggle a little bit on the road but we just have to take it game by game and we have to take it with personality and bravery so that we can win on the road.”
Struggling striker Robert Berić played all 90 minutes, and had six shots, with one big shot on target that was saved by Orlando goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar. Berić has just two goals all season, but Wicky hopes he could find some confidence from this performance despite the lack of goals.
“I think he should build from that,” Wicky said. “I think Robert had a good game in the first half. He was available. He held the ball. He got some fouls, and I think he was in good spots in the first half in one or two crosses, where he was nearly there, and obviously he had his big shot which was amazing, a compliment, as well, on the goalkeeper who made a big save there.”
The Fire have a week off, before heading to Harrison, NJ to face the New York Red Bulls next Saturday. They’re not back at home until Sept. 22 against the league leading New England Revolution. If the Fire can’t find ways to grab points between now and then, their dwindling playoff hopes will surely be dead.
Notes: Defender Boris Sekulić managed a perfect 100% passing accuracy on 18 total passes, including 11 passes in Orlando’s half.
Chicago Fire FC: GK Shuttleworth, D Terán, D Pineda (Medrán 71’), D Calvo ©, M Sekulić (Espinoza 71’), M Herbers (Offor 81’), M Giménez (F Collier 85’), M Stojanović, M Navarro, F Berić, F Ivanov (Gutiérrez 71’)
Subs not used: GK G. Slonina, D Kappelhof, D Omsberg
Orlando City SC: GK Stajduhar, D Ruan, D Carlos, D Jansson, D Moutinho, M Urso, M van der Water (Mas 85’), M Michel (Schlegel 79’), M DeZart (Aguilera Jr. 85’), F Nani © (Mueller 30’), F Akindele
Subs not used: GK Gallese, D Smith, D Halliday, D Hope-Gund, M Alvarado
Stats Summary: ORL / CHI
Shots: 11 / 18
Shots on Goal: 3 / 5
Passing Accuracy: 84.3% / 86.1%
Saves: 1 / 1
Corners: 5 / 11
Fouls: 10 / 6
Offsides: 0 / 0
Possession: 45.5% / 54.5%