Failure to win at home costly for Chicago Fire
When you can't win on the road, you need to win your home games.
That didn't work out for the Chicago Fire on Saturday night, and not for the first time, either.
The Fire picked up a point in the standings when it earned a draw against visiting D.C. United 0-0 in front of a season-high 18,232 fans at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, but the team slipped to 11th place in the Eastern Conference. The Fire's already slim chances of making the playoffs continued to shrink.
The Fire (5-10-9, 24 points) is the only MLS team without a road win this season, going 0-8-3, and hasn't won a game on the road in more than a year. But the club also hasn't been good enough at protecting its home-field advantage to make up for the lack of away points, going 5-2-6 at SeatGeek Stadium.
"It's very, very tough," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. "... Honestly, I'm going to cry for the 2 points we dropped tonight. But as I told the guys, we have one night, in this case, to be sad and in the case when we win, we have also one night to celebrate. And then next day, smile on your face, chin up and get on the street and try to get better again, keep going, keep pushing forward."
The failure to get all 3 points clearly weighed on everyone after the game.
"It's very tough. There's no other way to put it," Fire captain Dax McCarty added. "Definitely a frustrated locker room. I feel like there's more out there for us and we just can't quite take advantage or make use of the little advantages we created tonight. Definitely disappointing not to get 3 points."
The Fire trails seventh-place New England for the final playoff spot by 9 points with 10 games to play, six of them on the road.
"We have 30 points to fight for," Paunovic said. "Nobody's going to give up. The way we played today showed me, the guys told me on the field that they are not giving up and they're going to push and everyone here is going push for every single point that is left."
As usual, the Fire had several good scoring opportunities without success.
"They always have good chances," United coach Ben Olsen said. "I know you guys are probably really tough on them here, but they put together as many chances as probably anybody in the league, consistently. They're just having one of those years where things aren't going in for them, and lucky for us tonight that was the case."
For Fire goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm, it was his first shutout for the team in his 11th game. He made just 1 save, in part because he had newly signed veteran left back Jonathan Bornstein protecting him.