BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Chicago Fire 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union Saturday night came in excruciating fashion as referee Geoffrey Gamble awarded the visitors a controversial 90th minute penalty kick after Sebastien Le Toux’s hopeful effort hit Gonzalo Segares’ arm in the penalty area.
Fire head coach Frank Yallop didn’t mince words about the decision that led to the team’s 11th draw of the season
“It was one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen,” he said in his post-game press conference. “His arm is against his body. [It] hits Gonzo on the arm which is on his chest, not away from his body.”
With the Fire leading 1-0 after Jeff Larentowicz’s 60th minute header, Union boss Jim Curtin made attacking subs to throw numbers forward in an effort to equalize. The Fire back line followed up last week’s 1-0 win in New England with another strong performance, limiting the Union to just two shots on goal.
Unfortunately, their second came on the controversial penalty, given as Le Toux’s follow up attempt struck Segares in the arm, tucked tightly to his chest as he turned away from the shot.
“We all make mistakes and today the referee made one,” Segares said post-game. “I don’t need to see the replay to know that’s not a PK. I really didn’t know why he called it. I thought he hesitated a lot. I don’t think he had a clear view, if he did, he could have seen that my arm is tucked in right in front of my chest.”
“It’s very frustrating because I thought that we deserved more.”
Team captain Jeff Larentowicz lamented the missed opportunities to ice the game.
“Frank said at halftime ‘When we get the lead, we have to finish the game out.’ Unfortunately we leave it in the refs hands. We don’t finish the game, we don’t get the second goal, we don’t push the game.
“We have to get the second goal. Unfortunately calls are always lurking in the shadows, you never know when they’re going to pop up.”
The result will feel somewhat similar to the dramatic ending the last time the two sides met when Mike Magee’s late penalty kick to win was saved by Union goalkeeper Zach MacMath.
Four dropped points at home to Philadelphia – a team the Fire are competing against for an Eastern Conference playoff spot – undoubtedly hurts but Segares said the team needs to move on quickly as they visit the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday.
“It’s tough to swallow. “We feel good about the way we’ve played coming back from the World Cup break.
“We have an important game Wednesday vs. San Jose. We have to go there and get three points.”