Same old story for Fire in 2-2 draw with Quakes

BRIDGEVIEW Ill. – It was more of the same for the Chicago Fire in Saturday night’s 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes at Toyota Park. 

WATCH: Full Match Highlights

Like they’ve done so many times this year, the Fire played well enough to win on Saturday. They controlled large blocks of possession, outshot the Quakes 13-8 and didn’t give up many chances. 

But the story didn’t change, the Fire didn’t turn their solid performance into a victory, and the regular-season winless streak has now reached nine games. Chicago fell behind twice on a pair of half chances before squeaking away with a point thanks to an 80th minute equalizer. 

The Fire beat San Jose in a shootout in US Open Cup action on Tuesday, but repeating the feat was a bridge too far.

“We give up half chances, one or two chances, and they scored on those chances,” said Fire defender Cory Gibbs, who scored Chicago’s second goal. “It’s happening in every single game; it’s not like we’re giving up 10 chances a game. But that’s what happens in these types of seasons when things aren’t going your way - teams get one or two chances, they score and we’re trying to fight back into it.”

Both of San Jose’s goals came through the air. Midfielder Ramiro Corrales scored the first, rising above Fire forward Cristian Nazarit at the top of the six yard box to head home substitute midfielder Anthony Ampaipitakwong’s corner kick in the 50th minute. 

The second goal came in the 74th. Corrales and Ampaipitakwong combined well on the right side, freeing Ampaipitakwong for a cross to the middle. The rookie midfielder expertly picked out forward Chris Wondolowski, who flicked his header inside the far post from the top of the six yard box.

Chicago players and staff said after the match that they need to do a better job of staying focused during aerial attacks.    

“We’re living the same situation every week,” Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said. “We are not staying focused in some important moments of the game.”

Though the Fire were certainly disappointed after the match, they preached patience, pointing out that the young group is still learning and that the season still has a long way to go.

“One of the things we’ve got to do is keep things in perspective,” Fire captain Logan Pause said. “We had tons of change from last year in terms of player personnel and we’re still a young team. That’s not an excuse, we’re not a group of guys that makes excuses, but there are going to be growing pains.

“Of course one win out of 11 [games] isn’t good enough,” Pause added.  “But we have to keep plugging along.  We have to try to focus on some of our bad habits during training and hopefully we’ll get over this hump and get some better results.”

Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com.  Email him at sam.h.stejskal@gmail.comand follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.