The Chicago Fire weren't bad on Saturday night in a 2-1 defeat to the Philadelphia Union, but they weren’t exactly clicking either at PPL Park.
In a match which saw the Fire’s streak of four straight ties come to an end, the visitors could not establish their possession game as well as they did in recent weeks and failed to create as many clear-cut opportunities as they had in past games.
“In the first half, we were able to control the game a little bit but then they came on strong at the end,” Fire winger Dominic Oduro told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “I think the second half was more like a push and pull, but at the end of the day, we lost the game.”
Chicago defended well and, with the score tied 1-1 after Oduro’s 67th-minute equalizer, seemed like they were in a good position to earn a result. That all changed in the 75th, when Philadelphia forward Carlos Ruiz smashed a 40-yard half-volley off the bottom of the crossbar and in to give the Union all three points.
“It was a great goal,” Oduro said. “Nothing you can do about it. It just happened at a bad moment.”
The Fire pushed hard for an equalizer after Ruiz’s super strike, coming relatively close on multiple occasions before the final whistle. The team could have used a late game boost by newly signed forward Cristian Nazarit, but manager Carlos de los Cobos used his third and final sub in the 61st minute, three minutes before Union defender Michael Farfan opened the scoring.
The 2-1 result, which extended Chicago’s winless streak to eight, leaves the Fire with merely eight points from their first 10 games. That total leaves the Fire in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, just four points ahead of league cellar-dwellers Sporting Kansas City.
“There’s nothing we can do but keep our heads up,” Oduro said. “We still have a lot of games to go so you just got to keep your head up and try to fight for the little points ahead of you. Right now, we’re among the bottom on the table but at the same time we have a lot of games to go. We just have to reach out for the points and keep trying to make the playoffs.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.