Two games into the season and the Chicago Fire resembles its shirt sponsor's signature product.
The Fire looked as solid as Quaker oatmeal Saturday night, losing 1-0 to the rebuilding New England Revolution in the home opener at Toyota Park, a week after a 4-0 debacle at Los Angeles.
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"At some point you're going to go through a drought," said veteran midfielder Patrick Nyarko, expressing faith in the team's forwards despite losing twice without scoring once.
"Better early than later when you really need them. We need them now, but not as much as we need them later on. We'll fix that, keep working, keep creating chances, and I think we'll be fine."
"We've just got to put our chances away," Fire coach Frank Klopas said. "I think in the first half we had some good looks, and we've got to do better in the final third."
The Fire's best chance to score came in the 31st minute when new midfielder Dilly Duka's shot from 30 yards was tipped off the crossbar by New England goalkeeper Matt Reis, long a Fire nemesis. Reserve forward Alex had a chance in the 92nd minute, but Reis corralled it easily.
The Revs scored in the 62nd minute when substitute Kelyn Rowe chipped the ball into the Fire penalty area behind the defense to forward Jerry Bengtson. The offsides flag stayed down, and Bengston calmly headed the ball on the run past goalkeeper Sean Johnson from 5 yards out.
"We got caught ball-watching," Klopas said.
Meanwhile, neither starting Fire forward finished the game, Sherjill MacDonald leaving at halftime for Maicon Santos and Chris Rolfe leaving with a minor leg injury in the 65th minute for Alex. Rolfe said he would be fine.
"We took MacDonald (out) because we needed him more; we needed him to hold the ball better," Klopas said bluntly. "At times when we tried to find him, his ability to hold the ball was late to his movement.
"He had a couple of chances he didn't put away, and going against the wind (in the second half), I know that Maicon is bigger, stronger and he's able to hold the ball a little bit better."
"It's difficult, but once the confidence comes it will be OK," said MacDonald, the Fire's only designated player. "We have to look forward. Today was not a good game, but maybe next game we'll score and everybody will talk different."
There is no panic in the Fire locker room. To a man they'll tell you it's just two games out of 34, that there's more than seven months of soccer ahead.
But they sure did hope for a better start, and it doesn't get any easier next Saturday at a very good Sporting Kansas City team.
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