Undermanned Chicago Fire fall to Atlanta United FC 2-1

Updated 5/5/2018 10:22 PM

What you see with the Chicago Fire is what you will get, at least until July 10.

With the MLS primary transfer window having closed May 1, the Fire can't add any players already under contract until the secondary window opens in July. Saturday night's 2-1 loss to visiting Atlanta United shows that could leave the Fire in a difficult spot.

The Fire managed just 3 shots on target against one of the top teams in MLS. Right back Kevin Ellis fired the Fire's first shot on goal in the 61st minute, getting his money's worth with a 17-yard volley for the Chicago goal. It was Ellis' first goal for the Fire and only his sixth since started playing in MLS in 2011. The Fire won't count on another.

"I'm very happy how this team is in this moment when we need everyone's effort and everyone to give the support and confidence to his teammates," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said.

It's not that the eighth-place Fire (2-4-2, 8 points) didn't manufacture scoring chances. It took 14 shots. The Fire just didn't have the quality players it needed to finish good chances. That kind of player isn't coming for at least two more months.

Spanish forward Fernando Torres is the kind of player who could put away shots for the Fire. The Fire is reported to be close to signing the 34-year-old former teammate of Paunovic.

"I don't know anything about it," Paunovic said.

The Fire has a player of Torres' reputation in former World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger. Schweinsteiger moved back to his usual midfield spot against first-place Atlanta (7-1-1, 22 points) from sweeper, where he has played most of the season to solidify a leaky defense.

"Don't look where Bastian is playing. Look how the team is doing," Paunovic said.

Meanwhile, the Fire auditioned third-year center back Jonathan Campbell at forward, bringing him off the bench in the 81st minute when it was looking for the tying goal. The Fire hoped to use the 6-foot-2 Campbell's height to head in crosses lofted into the Atlanta penalty area.

"We needed somebody who could play in aerial duels, because we had enough pieces on the field who could move the ball side to side, which is what we wanted," Paunovic said.

The Atlanta goals came early in the second half. Ezequiel Barco opened the scoring in the 53rd minute, roofing a wide-open shot. Josef Martinez made it 2-0 in the 57th.

"We had a good second half except two situations, two details that decided the game," Paunovic said.

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