It was a brisk day at Toyota Park, and it only grew colder as the wind picked up through the match. Fans willing to brave this late Spring cold bundled up to catch their team to take on a Houston Dynamo team that is for all intensive purposes average, came into the night with one more point than the Fire.
The game got off to a rough start, as the Houston Dynamo got an easy goal opportunity through a pass out wide to Romell Quioto. He was hit out wide and easily got behind the Chicago Fire defense. A very rough sequence that led to the first goal of the day.
The first thoughts of many Fire fans were surely poor. After a string of lackluster performances, that first goal being given up so early must have hurt. Nemanja Nikolic had a response however, as he got himself his first goal since the Fire played the New York Red Bulls. Fans will hope that that was the goal to get his confidence back up, as he has not played great the last couple games.
Diego Campos decided that he wanted to get involved in the action as well, but it all started with none other than Bastian Schweinsteiger. It started with a simple nutmeg through a Houston defender, followed by a cross to the opposite side of the box which got to the feet of Kevin Ellis, who then passed it to the center just outside the box to Nikolic, who got a through ball to Diego Campos, and the Fire got up an early two to one lead.
The second half started off relatively poor, as a bad turnover by Tchani resulted in another one on one for Richard Sánchez. The result of the one on one was a very clear foul, resulting in a penalty that Elis put in the back of the net. Following the goal, there was a heated exchange between Schweinsteiger and Paunovic. I asked Schweinsteiger about the exchange after the match, but he declined to comment.
The Fire still had a chance to get the win, and fought hard for it, but lost the tie on a counterattack all the way from the back of the field. A pass to previous goalscorer Alberth Elis, just past midfield, showed him beat the Fire defense on raw speed.
The Fire had many opportunities later in the game to try and get the goal that would put them ahead, but they just could not convert on it. The Fire only ended up with three shots on target all game, an embarrassing amount.
The Fire put in a couple of subs in the second half that may have been confusing to many viewers. I liked putting in Daniel Johnson, but I was not nearly as much of a fan of taking out Katai. I thought that he was having a decent game, but the Fire decided to take him out, rather than Tchani, who has not been great as of late. Another sub came later when Alan Gordon came on. I assumed it would be for Nikolic, but ended up being for Mo Adams. I was not a fan of that one either, as the I was not sure why we again took a guy out who I thought was doing well when Tchani could have easily be subbed, but we decided to leave him on.
The Fire had many opportunities later in the game to try and get the goal that would put them ahead, but they just could not convert on it. The Fire only ended up with three shots on target all game. With two of those being goals in the early parts of the game, it seemed like the Fire attack fell apart quickly. It really seemed to die when Katai was taken off.
Paunovic appeared to be quite frustrated after the loss. He said after the game “This is the best we can do right now and it wasn’t good, not nearly enough.” The team is dealing with a ton of injuries at the moment, but that is no excuse for giving up a loss after going up 2-1. This team is struggling, and Nelson Rodriguez is going to be catching more and more flak for the results that are pilling up.
Paunovic was not alone in the frustration, as Schweinsteiger seemed a bit frustrated in his post-game interview as well. He said after the game “There are some situations in the game where we are feeling okay, now we’re in a good way [sic], but then we kill ourself and (it’s) unnecessary.” It was just a very frustrating day for the whole club, but at least Diego Campos got himself his first career goal.
A rough day all in all still leads us to be six points being a playoff spot. With the US Open Cup coming up fast, the team is going to need to figure it out before we miss out on both a playoff berth and a US Open Cup run.
The attendance today was 14,206.
Follow Dan on Twitter: @DanDeYoung80
Feature Photo Credit: Sean King for The Chicago Fire Confidential