WASHINGTON – The Chicago Fire entered their encounter with D.C. United riding a bit of a high. After a 3-0 victory against the Montreal Impact last week – their first road win in nearly two years – Chicago were looking to string together their first multi-game road winning streak since 2013.
Things did not go as planned. The bottom-dwelling Fire were competitive early but faded after a 34th minute Khaly Thiam red card, collapsing completely and suffering a 6-2 loss, there worst defeat since a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of United late last year.
Despite the performance – a four-goal loss which leaves the Fire nine points below the red line with nine games remaining – Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic remained upbeat in his post-game press conference, committed to the task of turning around his long-struggling side.
“First I think it was a great effort from our team,” said Paunovic. "I think our guys did their best and I want to congratulate them on that. It’s very important to us to give that message to all our rivals – that we’re going to do our best even in a situation like today where we had ten men on the field. It’s a hard loss, it is, but we learn from our mistakes, we believe that a team in the process of becoming a champion has to lose games like this. It happens to everyone.”
Chicago looked decent in the games opening phase – United head coach Ben Olsen said after the match that he actually felt his club was outplayed prior to Thiam’s red card – but struggled to string together chances as United disappeared into the distance. By the final whistle, D.C. had all of the ball, all of the time. They controlled 62 percent of the possession in the second half.
“I think that was obvious on the field, [that the red card affected the match,]” said Paunovic. “It affected our guys, our gameplan and everything. I think the response was good, after 3-1 we were able to score the second which gave us some hope for the second half."
“You can see we played with three strikers. There is no beauty in defending when you’re down 3-2, when you’re losing. We were maybe too brave. But that’s our message. We’ll keep working hard – we want to win all of our games. I’m going to say it again, because maybe [this has been missing] in the last couple of [games] – we, Chicago, we want to win all our games.”
Pablo Maurer is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com.