CARSON, Calif. – The Chicago Fire couldn't have been more pleased by their comeback from a two-goal second-half deficit in their MLS opener Sunday afternoon at Chivas USA, which made the disappointment when their hosts netted a winner at the end all the more palpable.
Bobby Burling rose against Bakary Soumare to nod home Mauro Rosales' corner kick in the 88th minute and give Chivas a 3-2 victory in their first game as an MLS-owned club, spoiling Frank Yallop's debut as Fire coach.
“If you look at the game as a whole, we were poor,” Yallop told reporters after Chicago wasted goals by substitutes Benji Joya and Quincy Amarikwa. “I think our whole demeanor wasn't what we've seen and worked on [in] preseason. So just very disappointing.
“Having said that, we get back in the game, 2-2, we fought back and kept going, we tie the game, and then to give up a set play like that is poor on our behalf. We got to learn from it, we got to move on, but I'm very, very disappointed.”
Chivas used a penalty kick and a near-post cross three minutes apart to open a 2-0 lead in the 59th minute, but Amarikwa provided energy off the bench, “and all of a sudden we get chances out of that,” Yallop noted. It's a positive, but “losing is terrible – it never feels good, no matter how you look at it.”
The Fire's rebuilt backline, with new arrivals Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Lovel Palmer on the right side, limited Chivas' chances but had breakdowns on all three goals. Erick Torres scored on a penalty kick after he was fouled by Gonzalo Segares, Thomas McNamara finished easily on a cross to the near post for the two-goal lead, and Burling's winner was nearly uncontested.
“We worked hard to come back in the game, then a lack of concentration at the end there,” Soumare said. “It's obviously on me – it's the guy I was marking, so it's on me, I'll take responsibility for that. Unfortunately, it happened, and we got to regroup.”
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson acknowledged there's “work to do” defensively, “but not a bad start from a foundation standpoint. We've got to fine-tune some things going into [next weekend's] Portland game, and this is one we're going to have to focus and reset, if you will.”
Yallop was most troubled by the ease with which Chivas scored its goals, especially the finale.
“I haven't yet seen [tape of] the goal, but it didn't look good from where I'm sitting,” he said. “It looked like a free header from six yards out. Give that to anybody, they're going to score. ...
“There's no excuses for us. We have to make sure that we're ready to play and dig deep when we need to. We should have gotten at least a tie our of the game.