On Fire: Conceding early goals finally burns Chicago

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Maybe it was the pressure of the playoffs looming. Maybe it was a hangover from Friday’s disappointing 2-0 loss to Kansas City. Or maybe, the Fire simply overlooked a young Philadelphia Union team in a 3-1 loss on Wednesday.

On Wednesday night, Chicago were left wondering why they’ve suddenly lost two straight games after winning seven of eight.

“This game was a little bit stupid to lose, because [on Saturday] we have a very tough team [in New York],” forward Sherjill MacDonald said after the game. “It was a perfect opportunity to win, but, you know, sometimes you have those games that nothing comes. We were very sloppy in the final third today. I think that’s our own fault today.”

Arne Friedrich said after the game that a few players may have had the mentality that the Fire have already clinched a playoff berth.

He hopes Wednesday was a wakeup call.

“Maybe it’s good that we know we are not in the playoffs yet,” said the German center back. “We have to work hard and we have to defend first because in the end, good defense wins. We played well for the first couple of months and now we’re getting lazy, and if we continue to play like this, we have no chance to get into the playoffs.

“I hope it’s early enough that we come together, recognize that and on Saturday we have do things completely differently.”

Fire give up first goal again

Against Philadelphia, the Fire gave up the first goal for the seventh time in their last 12 games. Despite a 9-3 record during that stretch, they haven’t garnered a shutout since they beat Vancouver 1-0 on June 14.

“We have to focus on not giving up an early goal,” midfielder Patrick Nyarko said. “We’ve done that way too many times. Fortunately, we’ve been able to come back but at some point your luck runs out, so we need to avoid going down early. We need to come out early, cover all our spots, stick to our game plan.”

Franco denies ill intentions

In his second game with the Fire, Guillermo Franco was red-carded in the 79th minute for a studs-up challenge that caught Philadelphia midfielder Brian Carroll on the shin. In addition, the MLS Disciplinary Committee on Thursday suspended the former Mexican international an additional game, which means he'll now miss the next two matches.

Franco denied that he had any ill intentions after the game.

“He kicked the ball and when he kicked it, there may have been some contact but it was not with an intention other than getting the ball and I was shown the red card,” Franco said. “I explain to ref, I was on the field to play and not diving or elbowing anybody and, on the first 50-50 ball that I go for, I get sent off."

Berry OK

Austin Berry was limping after he hurt his ankle late in Wednesday’s game, but the center back said he was fine after the game. 

The rookie has picked up a few knocks this season, including injuries to his shoulder, but he’s started 25 straight games.