You’d think that after ten years We’d be used to games like this. This game had everything we’ve come to expect from our club: A good start with wasted opportunities in front of goal? Yes. Big saves, both for and against? Oh Yes. Poor turnovers in awkward places? Yep. Goals that couldn’t be explained? Yep? For bonus points, they also got on the wrong side of VAR and then gave up a goal immediately afterward.
But the fact is that every time it happens, we get sadder and angrier and more fed up with this club. The 2022 Chicago Fire, with all due respect to the San Jose Earthquakes, should have walked out of PayPal park with an easy three points. The Fire were coming off a mid-week win over the best team in their Eastern Conference having played their best game in a while. Instead, we got more of the same.
The first half was the usual. The Fire dominated the game, even if they didn’t dominate possession, The expected goals graph looked like this:
The Fire midfield once again created a multitude of chances in the first 25 minutes. And the Fire strikers put away none of them. Either they hesitated too long and the shots were blocked, or the San Jose goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski was equal to the effort and kept the game scoreless. San Jose didn’t do anything dangerous in the end. The score at the half
Things went off the rails in the second half, as things so often do. The Fire fell asleep at the wrong times, leading to San Jose taking control of the game, which lead to an absurd series of events that lead to the Quakes taking the lead. A Montero Shot was saved by Slonina, who gave up a rebound hit off the crossbar, a shot deflected by a Fire defender, a shot off the post, and finally a tap-in by Benji Kikanovic. Kikanovic would double his lead later in the half, scoring the second Quakes goal after the Fire fell asleep after a VAR decision on a potential penalty didn’t go their way.
There was a silver lining, as there always seems to be too, aside from the goalkeeping performance. Brian Gutierrez scored his first goal for the club! The 18-year-old Chicagoan slipped in behind after a Jhon Duran pass and with a clinical finish, put the ball in the back of the net. If anything, that should give Ezra Hendrickson and his staff an idea of who to start next Saturday.
That the Fire can’t get out of this pattern of futility is sad, infuriating, and exhausting all at the same time. I don’t know what it will take for them to get it together and shake themselves out of this 5-year long rut. But if the end of the game is any indication, the answers may be in the next generation. They just have to play them.
The Fire next play at Soldier Field against the Columbus Crew on Saturday, July 9th.