Fire

Fire: Giovinco’s Return to Form too Much to Handle for a Still Improving Fire

On a night when Sebastian Giovinco seemed determined to let the league know he’s back to proper goal-scoring form, the Chicago Fire could do little more than watch.

Despite their edge in possession, the Fire could only manage putting a few midfield passes together at a time, and ended the evening with just a single shot on target. That shot stood as the only goal for the Men in Red, which came from David Accam in the 88′. By that time, however, the game was well wrapped up.

The early attacking onslaught from Toronto culminated in a Giovinco rolling goal in the 28′ from the top of the box, and just four minutes later in the 32′ defender Eriq Zavaleta’s near-post header would double the lead. Fire goalkeeper Jorge Bava would be beaten again at the near post in the 82′ thanks to a world-class Giovinco free-kick, as the Italian ripped a curler just beneath the cross bar and into the top-left corner from 25 yards out.

In fact, every single goal conceded by the Fire was struck toward Bava’s near post, and there will arise those arguments in the coming days saying he should have saved at least one. The free-kick? No. Giovinco’s mastery didn’t deserve a save. However, the first two? Maybe.

Still, this match proved that despite looking like a very different and much better team from previous seasons, there are still some glaring holes defensively for Chicago. More than that, absent was the Fire’s energy in the midfield and up-top that we had grown accustomed to seeing during the club’s home-game stretch. Not until Accam entered as a substitute in the 61′ did the Fire ever look slightly interested in putting together a viable attack.

Bastian Schweinsteiger was quiet all night, with just one shot and a few nice passes, though nothing special at all compared to his European counterpart on the opposing team. He was replaced by Arturo Alvarez in the 84′, after Nemanja Nikolic was subbed off the field in the 70′ with an equally uneventful evening.

If anything, on Friday night the Fire – who up until this season would have accepted the loss as routine, by the way – were simply an improving team who couldn’t do much against a great one. Toronto had been struggling up until the match, sitting toward the bottom half of the Eastern Conference table with four draws, but hosting the Fire they unquestionably found their full form.

While Veljko Paunovic goes back to the drawing board, and hopefully is able to sneak an apparently much-needed Accam into the starting lineup (the Ghanaian is said to have been battling an injury), the Fire will look to snag at least a point from next week’s game against the Red Bulls in New York.

 

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