BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The chance to finally jump into a playoff spot was in the Chicago Fire's hands when they led Houston, 1-0, with a few minutes left at Toyota Park on Sunday, a destination they haven't reached during their long climb up the table after a 2-7-1 start to the season.
But as the Fire sat back, trying to absorb the pressure that Houston was exerting, they gave Houston midfielder Adam Moffat a few yards of space in the 90th minute. The Scotsman took that space, nailing a shot into the opposite side netting, and a spot in the top five remained elusive after the 25th game of the season.
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“It definitely feels like a loss,” left back Gonzalo Segares said. “We thought we had three points in our hands and we let it slip away. It's definitely tough to swallow … We've got to be able to manage the game better. At least a minute before [Moffat's goal], we were dropping and dropping. I think we've got to be better to manage that.”
As the Fire sat back, their passing sequences became less fluid, and they began ceding possession to the Dynamo. With Houston controlling the flow of play, the Chicago defense finally broke.
“The team is playing a lot of long balls to put guys in and we knew we had to defend well,” coach Frank Klopas said. “We have to be better in possession. That’s the key, if you get the ball and you keep turning it over then they are going to play a long ball. When we did get the ball we had to be better even in transitions from when we did get it to be a little bit better and finish the game. That’s how it goes and we just have to move on.”
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Houston held 84 percent of possession from the 80th to the 85th minute, and 72 percent thereafter. Chicago's lack of control during the last part of the game culminated in two point-blank chances and cost the Men in Red two points.
“I think it's fatigue and some other words I don't want to use,” said Mike Magee. “It's just kind of a mindset. It comes from the back, guys have to push each other and get on each other a little bit more. To be fair, it happens with every team [in this league], it just sucks when it happens to you.”