On Fire: Another draw, and more concerns in Chicago

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — The good news is that the Chicago Fire extended their unbeaten streak to seven straight in Sunday's 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls 1-1 at Toyota Park. The bad news is that, for the 14th time in their past 15 matches, they failed to post a victory.

The Fire struggled in the first half on Sunday, giving New York too much space on the ball and getting carved up in the back. The hosts were much better in the second 45, however, playing tighter defense, holding much more of the ball and creating numerous chances.

This week’s On Fire takes a look at three other important story lines from Sunday’s game.

Failing to finish

As they have so many times this season, the Fire struggled in front of net. The team created numerous good chances — particularly in the second half — but needed a big-time mistake from New York goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul to get on the board.

Chicago missed the target on several of their better chances and didn’t follow up for rebounds on others. They also struggled to complete counterattacks, often looking lost when a break reached the final third.

The Fire, who have scored just three goals in their last six games, will need to improve their finishing — or find a new forward — if they’re to avoid missing the playoffs for the second straight season. 

“We just got to keep working and improving, especially in the final third,” Fire defender Gonzalo Segares said after the match. “We’re creating plenty of chances and we have good ideas, we just got to make that extra pass. Sometimes I think we’re trying to be the heroes and get the game winner instead of making the extra pass and having your teammate have the easy goal. We got to definitely keep working on that.”

Center midfield struggles continue

Midfielders Baggio Husidic and Daniel Paladini were decent defensively on Sunday, but they also struggled creating an offensive attack and distributing the ball. It marked the second straight game that Husidic and Paladini — who has been filling in for injured holding midfielder Logan Pause — struggled to generate offense.

“We need to get our midfield players more into the game,” Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas said. “[We need to better at] getting the ball and getting into a rhythm.”

Another quick turnaround

The Fire will play their third match in six days on Tuesday, when they travel to Rochester, N.Y., for a third-round US Open Cup match. Rochester, who lead the USL Pro’s National Division, should provide Chicago with a tough game and the Fire will need to regroup from Sunday’s match quickly.

For now, they’re not quite sure how exactly how they’ll bounce back.

“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.