BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- “Déjà vu.”
That’s how Fire head coach Frank Yallop described the ending of Saturday’s 1-1 draw against the New England Revolution.
Not because the result saw the club tie a league record for six consecutive draws, but because for the second straight home match, the Fire had a penalty kick opportunity in stoppage time that went begging.
Two weeks ago it was 2013 MLS MVP Mike Magee that saw his stoppage time penalty and follow up both saved by Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Zach MacMath right in front of Section 8 Chicago. Perhaps with that miss in mind, Saturday it was substitute forward Juan Luis Anangono that stepped up to take the kick, again at The Harlem End.
But the Ecuadorian DP put his take straight up the middle with little conviction as Revs GK Bobby Shuttleworth simply fell to the ground to make the save.
Captain Jeff Larentowicz’s follow up was largely stuffed by Shuttleworth before the referee whistled for a foul.
Déjà vu indeed.
In seven matches this season, the Fire have earned three penalty kicks. They’ve converted just one, coming from Larentowicz’s first half strike on March 16 at Portland.
Asked post-game about the decision on who should take the penalty, Larentowicz said, “Juan steps up and grabs the ball and that’s just what happened. As captain, as the one who’s made a penalty this year, I need to take the ball and take the penalty but I didn’t. That’s on me, not Juan.”
Relegated to a substitute role since that match in Portland, Anangono certainly had the opportunity to earn himself more playing time on Saturday with upstart forward and Fire goalscorer Quincy Amarikwa dismissed from the match in the 73rd minute.
Solemn post-game, Anangono took responsibility for the miss.
“The decision was my own,” he told reporters through a translator. “I struck the penalty kick and it was my own mistake. It happens. The only thing you can do for a team is keep your head up and keep going.”
The draw gives the Fire the somewhat unfortunate distinction of tying the 2011 Colorado Rapids MLS record for six consecutive draws.
“It’s very, very disappointing,” Yallop said post-game. “[Down a man] the team kept going, fighting and that’s good. You just really feel empty because of the way we put a lot of effort into the games we’ve had and you don’t get rewarded for it. I’ve watched many games in our league, teams play well and they win. I think we’ve played pretty well, created some good chances today.
“Four points are gone in the last two home games and they’re only ties, they should have been wins.”
So what’s the missing piece in turning one point into three? For Yallop, today, it was plainly obvious.
“I think the missing piece is ice cold finishing in the last seconds of a game,” he said. “That’s what we’re missing. Away from home it’s difficult to win matches and we’ve done fine. But at home, you have to win and that’s how you usually do well. We’ve had two games, where there’s no time left on the clock and we have a penalty kick. I think the players know it’s important to score that.”
Sitting 0-1-6, the Fire will have a bit longer to weigh Saturday’s result and perhaps practice penalty kicks as they sit idle next week before hosting 2013 MLS Cup finalists Real Salt Lake on May 3 at Toyota Park.
“We have to regroup and get a result in the next game,” Yallop said. “Which is not an easy one by the way.”
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- “Déjà vu.”