On Fire: Chicago's tired legs dooming their playoff hopes?
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — Saturday’s 3-0 loss at FC Dallas didn’t mathematically eliminate the Fire from the postseason, but it might as well have. The defeat kept Chicago in 11th place, 11 points behind eighth-place San Jose with just four games remaining.
Simply put, the Fire were outclassed in all areas on Saturday. They struggled to create chances, defended poorly, and failed to maintain possession, dooming them to their fourth loss in five games—not the type of record that makes for a magical push into the postseason.
Two quick observations from Saturday’s match:
1) Tired legs
It wasn’t hard to see that Saturday’s game was the Fire’s third in seven days. Chicago—who lost 1-0 to Seattle on September 25th and won 3-0 at San Jose on the 29th—looked sluggish from the start, allowing FCD to control the early play before conceding in the 19th minute.
Then, Chicago failed to mount much of a fight after falling behind, getting forward too infrequently for a side with their playoff lives on the line. Their inability to chase the game came down to the tired legs of the starting XI—which featured nine players who started in San Jose just three days before.
2) Watson-Siriboe shows his youth
After strong performances in the Fire’s two previous games, rookie center back Kwame Watson-Siriboe came back to down to earth on Saturday.
The second-round pick was to blame for Dallas’s opener. He misjudged FCD goalie Dario Sala’s free kick, allowing forward Milton Rodriguez to run onto the ball just outside the 18. The Dallas striker buried his shot in the upper corner.
Watson-Siriboe didn’t fare much better with the ball at his feet, struggling in distribution before being taken off in the 59th minute. It was a step back for the UConn product, who has shown great potential but obviously still has much to learn.
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.