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Pause: Chicago Fire 0, Atlanta United 0

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

A draw against Atlanta United was not the worst result in the world for the Chicago Fire. Pending the results of the late games, the once and future Men in Red may have jumped up a place to 8th, one place below the playoff line. Eves with that being true, the result feels like a little bit of a letdown. Credit should go to Atlanta though. They played better than they have all month, punching the Fire early and keeping up, even when the game got stretched at the end.

The Fire, meanwhile, took a bit of a step back. The decision to start Jairo Torres instead of Brian Gutierrez is understandable. Torres is an incredible talent and probably when fully integrated into the squad, will be a terror to defenses. However, he’s not quite there yet, and I would expect Brian Gutierrez to continue to start games going forward until Torres is more comfortable with his teammates.

Both teams played excellent defense for the entire game, and chances for either team came few and far between. Atlanta smothered the ball whenever it came to the feet of Shaqiri or Duran, leaving them both frustrated for most of the match, leading to a dissent yellow for Shaqiri, and a moment of passion from Duran as he came out of the game in the second half. I don’t blame Duran. He constantly gets kicked, slapped, and shoved down, and it seems like he never gets any protection from the referees even when the foul looks particularly obvious. This meant that by the time he came out of the game, he was pretty beaten up and getting more ineffective by the minute.

The best chance for the Fire came when Xherdan Shaqiri managed to put the ball into the back of the net off of a recycled corner. At first glance, it looked like he cleverly bated Atlanta into ignoring him by standing offside and then getting back onside at the very last moment. However, a VAR check after the goal showed that he didn’t get back in time, and the goal was rightfully disallowed.

Late on in the game, tragedy struck the Fire. After making a 60-yard run to stop a break, and then staying in the play to make a block on a shot, Carlos Teran went down in a heap. The Fire are already down several central defenders, and they had to push Mauricio Pineda back to close out the game while Gaston Gimenez made his return from injury. Postgame, Ezra Hendrickson said it was a hamstring injury, but we just don’t know how bad. he’ll be evaluated tomorrow.

At the end of the day, It feels like the Fire pressed the pause button today. They could move up based on what the teams around them in the table do. It was a missed opportunity today, but not the end of the world. They have a big 6-point game next week against Charlotte before their schedule gets tough. We’ll see in the next month what they’re made of.

The Fire next play next Saturday against Charlotte FC in North Carolina.