BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Chicago Fire players don't claim last week's 3-0 win over D.C. United was their best performance despite the lopsided scoreline. Their possession of the ball could have been much better, they concede, and plenty of D.C. United chances made their way to goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
But after dropping five points late during September, their play down the stretch in Friday's win may be the key in the Fire's fight to regain a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We kind of dropped off and let them have the ball in front of us, really not creating anything because we knew they were going to push in a smaller field,” coach Frank Klopas told MLSsoccer.com. “We wanted to leave some spaces on the break, and we scored the third goal, we kept the clean sheet.”
The fate of the Fire's season may come down to late-game letdowns from last month. Three points lost in games against Houston and Seattle certainly hurt, and a three-point swing at the death against Montreal hasn’t helped their battle for playoff positioning.
But against D.C., they finally got it right, keeping defenders and defensive midfielders home before countering for a late goal.
“We were smarter,” midfielder Jeff Larentowicz told MLSsoccer.com. “I think that for some reason when we were home, we were still going for the goal against Montreal, but against DC, I think we were more organized.”
Chicago have put themselves in position to win over the last few months. Now, they need to finish their chances for points, and last Friday's win – at least part of it – could be a model.
“Most of it is the same kind of theme,” midfielder Patrick Nyarko told MLSsoccer.com. “The most important thing is not giving away easy chances for the opponent. If they're going to get a chance or score, they should earn it in a spectacular way. Just make sure you do whatever is necessary not to give away an easy chance, which all comes down to the fact that you need to be one unit as a team, and move forward and attack as a team and defend and attack and all that as a team, and not getting yourself exposed by leaving gaps in between defenders and midfielders and midfielders and forwards.”