BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Frank Yallop laid the blame on a “topsy turvy” start to the season on his side’s inability, once again, to make the most of the many opportunities created in the opposing third.
After his Chicago Fire fell to a 2-1 defeat at home to Real Salt Lake for their fifth loss in eight games, the head coach lamented his side’s profligacy in front of goal and poor pass selection when in promising positions inside the opposition’s box.
“I think we really didn’t make that final pass again,” Yallop told reporters at the post-match press conference at Toyota Park, where fans turned up for a doubleheader with the Chicago Red Stars of the NWSL. “And not just the final pass, the calmness to finish too.
“We’re getting into certain spots on the field well, I think we’re overlapping good, our switch of play was good, our general play was what we talked about. But just that final, cutting edge is not quite there, and that confidence right now. We’ll keep going.”
The Fire were largely architects of their own demise, their adventurous play allowing an organized and resolute RSL to hit them in transition in the early stages of each half, capitalizing on an exposed Fire backline to score with two of their five shots, while the hosts misfired at the other end.
Statistically, the Fire appeared to be well in control, boasting over 55 percent possession, 14 shots to RSL’s five, and 14 corners to the visitors’ three. However, the only statistic that matters is the scoreline, and again the Fire were on the wrong side of that on this occasion.
“It’s frustrating,” Yallop admitted. “It’s a weird one, you look at the game as a whole and think ‘did we deserve to win?’ Maybe not. ‘Did we deserve to lose with the general play?’ Maybe not, but it’s a game of goals, we scored one penalty kick, but we’ve just got to keep going and make sure we’re not losing faith in what we’re doing.”
Captain Jeff Larentowicz, who gave the home fans some hope of a revival when he converted an 88th minute penalty to reduce the deficit to one goal, also pinpointed the lack of composure and accuracy with the final ball.
“I think it’s the final pass, like we said at the end of last week, after the KC game, every time we get into good positions, or get to the byline it’s just picking someone out, finishing that shot,” Larentowicz said. “They had it in the first half, they made one play, it was a good play, and they scored. That’s the difference.”
Now on the back two defeats in a row, the Fire turn their attention to next Friday’s trip to New York City FC, a game in which the home side will be seeking revenge after the Fire defeated Jason Kreis' team a few weeks ago.
“Topsy turvy, I’d use that phrase,” Yallop surmised when asked to describe the season thus far. “We tied a ton of games last year, I’d have taken a tie today for sure. It’s still in the making a little bit, we’ve not been dull, that’s for sure, we’ve just got to figure out as a group, and I’m the leader of it all, just a way of getting to grind some results, get back into games and not give up goals when you’re on the front foot.”
Shane Murray covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com