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As Shaqiri departs, Chicago Fire earn point in 0-0 battle with FC Dallas

With two wins, three draws, and a league-high four shutouts, the Fire remain undefeated in 2022

MLS: FC Dallas at Chicago Fire Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

On a cold, rainy day that saw team captain Rafael Czichos miss the match, and Xherdan Shaqiri leave early on, the Chicago Fire were able to keep FC Dallas off the board, staying undefeated in 2022 with a 0-0 draw at Soldier Field Saturday afternoon.

Czichos missed the match after entering Covid health and safety protocols, and Fire head coach Ezra Hendrickson told reporters Shaqiri asked to come out in the 19th minute, after trying to give it a go.

“He felt some tightness in his calf,” Hendrickson said. “He felt like he needed to come out before he did something serious to it. Hopefully it’s just a bit of tightness and we can get him ready for next weekend.”

For the Fire this season, the question has been how the team would look if they ever had to play without Czichos, who has been a steady leader on the back line, and Shaqiri, who has been the team’s best creative force going forward. On Saturday, without both players, the Fire were still stout defensively with Mauricio Pineda sliding back to start alongside Wyatt Omsberg, but were lackluster on the attack. The Fire and FC Dallas each recorded just one shot on target.

“It wasn’t our best performance today,” Hendrickson said. “It wasn’t one of our most fluid games, especially on the ball I thought it was a little slow... But also, I told them it’s a sign of a team that’s gelling together, that’s getting better when even on your worst night, a night when you don’t play your best football, you still find a way to get something out of the game, and not lose the game.”

It’s early spring in Chicago so it’s not a surprise, but weather was again a problem. Attendance was low once again because of the cold and rain—with just 11,411 the announced crowd. And, the product on the field got worse as the match dragged on.

“The field got really heavy towards the second half, with a lot of rain coming down,” Fire forward Fabian Herbers said. “It felt very slow, very sloppy, and I feel like that’s kind of reflected in our performance and Dallas’ performance as well.”

FC Dallas midfielder Paxton Pomykal was even more blunt.

“It was one of the toughest conditions that I’ve ever played in,” Pomykal said.

The conditions were the same for both teams, though. While Fire teams over the last few seasons would have almost certainly conceded a goal in a game like this, the 2022 Fire were able to keep Dallas off the board, even after USMNT striker Jesus Ferriera entered the match in the second half. The change in mindset is perhaps the biggest reason why the Fire remain undefeated, with nine points through five games this season.

“I feel like in the past, when it’s like a 50-50 game, we more often than not have come away with a loss in those situations,” Herbers said. “I’m really proud of the group that we stuck together, we’re fighting together, and not giving up easy goals.

“Not a great game for the spectators, but we kept the Brimstone Cup at home, so that’s something positive.”

Another positive: the clean sheet is the fourth of the season for the Fire, which is best in MLS. Although he wasn’t busy today, goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina now has an incredible eight shutouts in his first 16 career matches.

The Fire will look to remain undefeated when they visit Orlando City next Saturday (12 p.m CT, TUDN, Univision, live streamed on Twitter).

Chicago Fire FC: GK Slonina, D Sekulić (Espinoza, 61’), D Pineda, D Omsberg, D M. Navarro, M Gimenez, M F. Navarro, M Herbers (Bornstein, 60’), M Shaqiri © (Gutiérrez, 19’), M Ivanov (Casas Jr., 84’), F Przybyłko

Subs not used: GK Richey, D Burks, D Terán, F Offor, F Durán

FC Dallas: GK Paes, D Gomes, D Martinez, D Hedges, D Farfan, M Quignon (Cerrillo, 63’), M Servania, M Pomykal (Ntsabeleng, 84’), F Obrian, F Jara (Ferreira 63’), F Velasco (Elmedkhar, 90’+1’)

Subs not used: GK Maurer, D Munjoma, D Tafari, D Twumasi, F Schon

Stats Summary: CHI / DAL

Shots: 9 / 5

Shots on Goal: 1 / 1

Passing Accuracy: 82.4%/ 79.8%

Saves: 1 / 1

Corners: 2 / 1

Fouls: 15 / 18

Offsides: 4 / 4

Possession: 50.1% / 49.9%

Attendance: 11,411