Record string of ties beginning to take its toll on Fire

Chicago Fire celebration - June 26, 2011

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BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Another game, another draw for the Chicago Fire.

Chicago tied their MLS-record sixth straight home game on Sunday, drawing the New York Red Bulls 1-1 at Toyota Park. The Fire have tied six of their last seven matches and now have 11 draws this year, three short of the MLS single season mark with 17 games left on the schedule.

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All of the draws are draining the Fire players, who know that a win on Sunday would’ve brought them into a tie with Houston for the final playoff spot.

“Yeah it does,” Fire midfielder Baggio Husidic said when asked if all the ties are wearing on the team. “It always comes up [with people saying], ‘How many ties do you guys have?’ We’re trying to deal with it the proper way, it’s not like we want to tie, but unfortunately sometimes that happens and we just happen to have a lot of them.”

The Fire started slowly on Sunday, playing on their back foot for most of the first half. The team struggled defensively, giving New York’s attackers far too much space on the ball throughout the first 45. They weren’t much better in possession, struggling to hold the ball and proving unable to play through the midfield.

“We talked about coming out hard in the first couple minutes, not letting them settle in and we actually came out flat,” Fire defender Gonzalo Segares said. “So it’s frustrating…. In the first half we let them play, we let them do really good, we weren’t putting pressure on the ball and we actually looked tired ourselves.”

New York took advantage of the Fire’s poor play in the 40th minute, when a muffed clearance from Chicago center back Yamith Cuesta led to a goal from Red Bulls midfielder Joel Lindpere.

Chicago came out with a lot more energy after the break, and it showed. The Fire were much better in possession, created numerous chances and did a much better job of closing down the Red Bulls attackers.

But the Fire still struggled in front of net in the second half, needing a major gaffe from New York goalie Bouna Coundoul to get on the board.

“We had a good turnaround in the second half,” said Segares, who wore the captain's armband on the day. “We had plenty of chances, I think that we just need to finish. We had plenty of chances to be up 2-1 or even 3-1, but Coundoul had a good save and we just got to keep working.”

With another draw in the books, the Fire must quickly turn their attention toward the U.S. Open Cup. They’ll play at the USL’s Rochester Rhinos in a third round match on Tuesday night – an incredibly short turnaround for a team that’s already played three times in the last eight days.

“I don’t know [how we’re going to do it],” Husidic said. “It’s going to be tough but it’s part of it.”

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