Fire haven't been shut out for 7 matches
Last-place teams have to look hard for positives, but here is one: the formerly low-scoring team known as the Chicago Fire hasn't been shut out in its last seven matches.
The Fire collected a 3-0 victory against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night at Toyota Park, in the process shutting out one of the highest-scoring teams in MLS.
New Dutch forward Michael de Leeuw provided much of the offense. He nearly got credit for the Fire's first-half goal that was eventually ruled an own goal. There was no question he deserved credit for the second-half goal, heading it in. He nearly had another in the 83rd minute but just missed high.
"He's a very opportunistic striker," Philadelphia coach and former Fire defender Jim Curtin said of de Leeuw. "He's a guy who has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. We've talked about how he makes good runs in the box and dealing with that."
Midfielder Arturo Alvarez scored the third goal in the 90th minute off a de Leeuw assist.
The Fire (6-12-8, 26 points) also hasn't been scoring just lone goals lately. Only once during that seven-game stretch has the Fire settled for just one goal.
Slowly but surely the Fire is climbing out of the basement of the league rankings in goals scored.
"There is no doubt that all the work that we've been doing in the season, it's slow, but it's coming all together," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said.
In 11 games since joining the Fire, de Leeuw has 3 goals and 3 assists.
The win also is the second in the last four matches for the Fire, who could use every bit of bright side they can find after last week's 6-2 loss at D.C. United, one of the worst in club history.
That's in the past, de Leeuw said, noting the team's confidence.
"Ah, it's good," he said. "It's big. The most important thing is we create a lot of chances. Then you can score a lot of goals. You see it in the last four or five games."
Another bright spot was goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who recorded 4 saves for his fifth shutout this season, the team's eighth.
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