Missed opportunities pile up as Chicago Fire face desperate times
A fortunate bounce went the Chicago Fire's way on Wednesday in Toronto, but as has been the trend lately, the Fire couldn't take advantage of good luck.
Two minutes after Dilly Duka's chip to Mike Magee skipped past Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik, Robert Earnshaw took advantage some questionable Fire defending and tied the game. It would end that way nearly 70 minutes later, still 1-1 – and still with Chicago on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
“How the game went, I feel like it is a missed opportunity,” midfielder Jeff Larentowicz told MLSsoccer.com. “But we got points, we moved up from where we were starting tonight, and Saturday's [game against fifth-place New England is] a big one.”
In the five minutes leading up to Duka's goal, Chicago held 79 percent of possession. They had the TFC backline constantly back-pedaling, and were finding gaps to exploit all over the attacking third.
But after they scored, Chicago’s time on the ball fell off of a cliff. Toronto forward Robert Earnshaw scored on a counter attack, and Larentowicz said TFC's confidence grew thereafter.
“We did have momentum, I thought we played quickly, I thought that we did put them under a lot of pressure, we were creating turnovers, and then we were able to attack high up the field,” the midfielder said. “We scored our goal and they scored their goal and it seemed like they gained confidence a little bit, and we sort of slowed down. When those two things happen, it can be tough. In the end, we still had chances, and it's a tie on the road.”
For the third straight game, the Fire missed out on a chance to jump into the driver’s seat in the playoff race.
But once again, an opportunity awaits when the Revolution visit Toyota Park on Saturday. This has to be the time, Larentowicz said, that Chicago grasp an opportunity instead of letting it slip away.
“We've been saying it game after game for the last four or five weeks now,” Larentowicz said. “We tied a tough one against Houston when we're up a goal, we allow Seattle back into a game, now it's time for us to start picking up the reins. The games-in-hand that we've sort of rested on and relied on, we've sort of let those go without maxing out all the points. Now all of these games are very important for us. If we get a win on Saturday, which we're definitely capable of doing, the story changes once again.”