BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chicago Fire forward Sherjill MacDonald found it difficult to talk about himself after a 4-1 embarrassment at the hands of Chivas USA on Sunday.
After struggling through the first three games of the season, the Designated Player deserved little of the burden after a loss. After all, the Dutch forward came out of the game in the 68th minute when the game was tied 1-1 after assisting on the Fire's lone goal (above), and could have had two more assists with his strong hold-up play creating chances throughout the game.
Still, MacDonald didn't feel right absolving himself of blame.
“Obviously, I think I could do better,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “It's just sad the way we lost today, so it's difficult to talk about myself.”
The big striker came out of the game with a calf injury that has lingered because of compartment syndrome. He reiterated after the game that the only way the injury will only go away completely after he has minor surgery, which doesn't sound imminent.
But MacDonald did enough during his time on the field to give the Fire the win in his most productive performance this season. In the 39th minute, he played Chris Rolfe through on a breakaway on a strong header with his back to goal, but Rolfe's breakaway shot was saved by goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
Early in the second half, MacDonald received the ball just outside the penalty area and played a deft pass with the outside of his foot through to Daniel Paladini, who was all by himself but hit the outside of the post.
Finally, he received the ball with his back to goal in the 64th minute and, with a sea of defenders surrounding him, passed to Patrick Nyarko, who scored the Fire's first goal of the season.
“I tried to keep the ball as much as possible to set other people up, and just keep the ball in front,” MacDonald said. “I did my best, but things can always be better.”
After MacDonald left the game, things fell apart for the Fire. His hold-up play was Chicago's most dangerous attacking weapon on Sunday, and without it, the attack sputtered as Chivas USA ravaged the Fire defense.
But for the first time this season, MacDonald showed just how good he can be holding off defenders and setting up teammates. That much, at least, was encouraging.
“It was better,” head coach Frank Klopas said. “I thought he was better. At the end of the day, we create opportunities and we've got to put them away.”