BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Chicago Fire weren't dominated in a 4-1 loss to Chivas USA on Sunday. They didn't lack for scoring chances, either. For almost an hour, Chicago played organized defensive game, held off the Chivas attack and generated chance after chance.
In the final 33 minutes, that all fell apart in a humiliating late-game collapse to extend a deflating four-game winless start to the season.
"It’s embarrassing what happened today,” left back Gonzalo Segares said quietly. "I’ve got no words to explain how things were so bad. We had a pretty strong first half. When you don't put away goals and when you give away easy ones, it's a bad recipe."
After holding strong for 57 minutes, the Fire defense failed in almost every facet during those horrific 33 minutes.
First, they allowed an uncontested shot from outside the box to beat Paolo Tornaghi, starting his first game of the season in Sean Johnson's stead. Then, poor set-piece marking and a misjudgment by Tornaghi led to Joaquín Velázquez's 73rd minute goal. Finally, an all-out breakdown led to Juan Agudelo's pretty strike in the 75th before Jalil Anibaba knocked the ball into his own goal just before injury time.
The Fire pressed so hard for their first win of the season, center back Austin Berry said, that Chivas' quick counters caught them shorthanded in the back.
“I thought we had good energy going into the second half,” Berry said. “How the season is going, we really wanted a result, and we really felt positive coming out of halftime. A tie wasn't going to be good enough for us. We really pushed. That and the way they play helped spread us out.”
Much-needed reinforcements will be coming for the struggling Fire defense in the next few weeks, with Arne Friedrich set to come back from a hamstring injury and Logan Pause, who dressed on Sunday, prepared to return from a quad injury.
Whether it comes from in or out of house, it's clear that change is needed. Chicago have given up four goals twice this season while only scoring one, and they are already 11 points out of first place after four games.
“You have to look at everything,” head coach Frank Klopas said when asked whether new blood is needed. “Right now it just seems like we’re not getting things done. So we have to evaluate and make some decisions and do what’s best for the team.”