Fire find positives despite heartbreaking equalizer
For most of Saturday night’s game against the San Jose Earthquakes, Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson was unbeatable, and a Chris Rolfe toe-poke goal from outside the penalty area had the Fire ready to celebrate an unlikely road victory as the stoppage-time seconds ticked.
But the seconds kept ticking. And ticking.
Time was added after Alan Gordon received a red card and an argument from San Jose coach Frank Yallop ensued, all of which happened while Dan Gargan was being treated on the field after Gordon's hard challenge. Soon, the Earthquakes were advancing the ball up the field in the 98th minute. That’s when Steven Lenhart finally beat Johnson to tie the game, 1-1, after the Fire goalkeeper made 10 saves.
WATCH: Johnson dominates vs. San Jose
“Obviously we thought [the stoppage time] was a little much, especially when they get rewarded for [the red card] and the coach wasting time,” Rolfe told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “I don’t think that’s fair to us, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
The Fire had positives to take out of the game. They registered 20 attempts on goal, seven more than they took in any of their five previous games, when their offense grew stagnant.
“It felt a little bit better,” Rolfe said. “We had more movement up front and more combination play. We’re happy with that.”
And from across the field, San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch could see how much of an impact Johnson had on the game.
“I thought Sean was awesome tonight,” Busch said. “Full credit has to go to him, he kept them in the game tonight with save after save. We would have had a couple more if it weren’t for him. He has a bright future ahead of him. He is a future senior national team goalkeeper and I told him that. He was fantastic.”
But in the 97th minute, Chicago thought a win against the Western Conference leaders was secure. No positives could completely ease the sting of those lost points late on Saturday night.
“We were disappointed not to take away three points but we need to look at it as a positive moving forward,” Johnson said. “We came in to a tough place to play … and on the road, you always want to come away with a point. But it is disappointing since we had the game in hand for so long.”