Chicago tied the all-time MLS record for draws in a season on Saturday night, earning their 14th of the year with a 2-2 stalemate at the New York Red Bulls.
With 11 games left on the schedule, it’s a pretty safe bet that Chicago will break the mark for single season draws set by FC Dallas last year. Not that they’ll be proud of the record – the Fire grew tired of tying long ago. Now, with the team trailing Chivas USA by ten points for the tenth and final playoff spot, they’re downright upset when they only get one point.
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“It’s frustrating,” Fire attacker Dominic Oduro told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “Obviously we go into every game hoping to win. We had a bad game last week [at Vancouver], but I think we came in mentally ready to this game. We were able to recover from a goal down and we came out of the first half up 2-1. Obviously we were getting a lot of pressure on us, but we thought we could handle it but it [didn’t happen].”
The fact that the Fire gave up a second-half lead on Saturday night only makes their pain more pronounced. Chicago clawed back after New York striker Thierry Henry’s opener, getting first half goals from Oduro and midfielder Sebastian Grazzini to take a 2-1 lead into the break. They held their advantage until the 65th minute, when Red Bulls midfielder Joel Lindpere took advantage of some poor marking by Fire defender Yamith Cuesta to flick Dane Richards’ cross inside the far post.
“We thought we could handle the pressure coming onto us but I guess at the end of the day we couldn’t do that,” Oduro said. “It’s definitely frustrating ... We just have to try to go forward. There’s nothing else for us to do right now but to try to get up and go forward.”
Lindpere’s goal came in spite of Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas’ halftime decision to move Patrick Nyarko back from forward – where he was paired with Oduro – to right midfield to help alleviate some of the Red Bulls' pressure.
“From the way things were going we just had to drop a little bit,” Oduro said of Nyarko’s move to midfield. “We had too much pressure coming up on us so we just had to conserve our energy and try and keep the ball in the midfield. It didn’t work ... and we just have to try and do better in our next game.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.