In a match that ended as a scoreless draw, and saw two admittedly questionable Orlando City red cards, center referee Ted Unkel seemed poised to steal the show tonight.
That seemed fine with the Chicago Fire, who apparently didn’t want to attract the spotlight, as not even against an opposition of nine men could they score.
That isn’t to say the Men in Red were without their chances; Bastian Schweinsteiger and the rest of the Dax-less midfield dominated possession, and the club saw plenty of opportunities in the final third of the field. In the 94′ David Arshakyan found the underside of the crossbar, just two minutes after 92′ Matt Polster did the same.
Yet not once could the Fire find the back of the net.
The match was so visibly lopsided that in its final stages, the Orlando crowd would erupt in applause and cheers when their team merely booted it out of their own defensive third.
After the final whistle sounded, the scene around the stadium was one of smiles among Orlando players and supporters.
After playing nearly the whole down a man, and half of it down two, how could the draw not feel like a win for the Floridian side?
Yet, just the opposite was true for the visitors.
Of course, the Fire walked off the pitch extending their unbeaten streak to six games. But Chicago has only been victorious once on the road this season, and to say that tonight was a good opportunity to chalk up another road win would be a bit of an understatement.
Aside from tallying three points on the road, battling against a Swiss cheese Orlando lineup seemed the perfect recipe for the Fire to secure their second place standing in the Eastern Conference.
Alas, even with MLS Golden Boot leader Nemanja Nikolic hungry for another goal, and with a twelfth man on their side wearing a yellow referee uniform, Chicago just could not put any of their 21 shots away.
If the Fire are to continue their habit of turning heads, they’ll have to learn how to finish when they return home next Saturday to host an Atlanta team that swept the floor with them during their last outing together. Luckily, the Fire have a knack for finding the net at home, having not lost once and winning six of their seven total matches at Toyota Park in 2017.