Hard-luck Fire defense vows to improve after miscues

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Chicago Fire have given up five goals in their last three games.

But according to goalkeeper Sean Johnson, it hasn’t been because they’ve played bad defense. It’s that they’ve made a few costly mistakes in otherwise sound efforts.

“We’ve been a bit misfortunate,” Johnson told MLSsoccer.com after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders. “We’ve just got to get back to it and limit those mistakes that put us in a bind.”

As if to prove the point, the Sounders were allowed just four shots on goal on Saturday, but turned two of them into goals off of miscues by Chicago.

HIGHLIGHTS: CHI 1, SEA 2

David Estrada’s 39th-minute attempt found its way into the net after deflecting off of the inside of centerback Arne Friedrich’s calf and past an off-balance Johnson to put Seattle up 1-0.

Eddie Johnson’s 67th-minute goal, the Sounders’ second, came off a rebound in the box made possible after Sean Johnson bobbled a shot from the outside of the box that dipped in front of him.

“I thought [the defensive showing] was alright,” Johnson said. “But in giving up two goals, you can’t be happy with your defensive performance… In the past two games, we’ve given up two goals and that’s not going to win us any games. Definitely as a defensive unit, we’ve got to get better.”

The propensity to make mistakes has become a trend over the last three games, Friedrich's only games with the club.

A run straight through the Fire defense by Houston Dynamo forward Will Bruin led to a goal and may have cost the Fire two points two weeks ago. Last week, Chicago let Toronto FC go in front in the 40th minute after a wide-open Reggie Lambe found his way onto the end of a Ryan Johnson cross that somehow trickled through the middle of the penalty area.

In games against other teams, the Fire’s three previous opponents have scored on 26 percent of their shots on target. Against the Fire, they’ve scored on 39 percent of their shots on target.

“I think we just need to stay positive,” Anibaba said after Saturday’s game. “We played well, we fought hard, and I have to say that luck wasn’t on our side today. We just have to keep our heads up.”

But after a few disappointing outings, it’s clear that a defensive unit that was once was a strength for the Fire is in need of improvement.

“Game-by-game, you want to say you build and build, but honestly it’s coming together,” Johnson told MLSsoccer.com. “Players are jelling and it’s coming together but we’ve got to come out next week and really prove it and turn things around.”