BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Frustration swept over the Chicago Fire late during Saturday's 1-0 win over Columbus.
Unlike the first few games of the season, when mistakes were plenty and chances were few for Chicago, the dissatisfaction wasn’t born out of a lack of chances: It was born out of squandered ones. The Fire had chance after chance in the second half, but 15 second-half shots were either stopped by goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum or wide of the post.
“You think about it a little bit, 'Here we go again, we're not going to be able to score,'” Patrick Nyarko said. “The goalie was just unbelievable today … But so far as we kept our foot on the pedal, they were going to crack.”
Sherjill MacDonald, Patrick Nyarko, Gonzalo Segares, Chris Rolfe and Austin Berry all had clear goalscoring chances that went begging. The Crew created nothing in the second half, but they stood to sneak out of Chicago with a point with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Frustration finally turned into relief when Jeff Larentowicz's header crossed the plane of the goal in the 84th minute.
“Definitely when Jeff's header went in, there was relief,” Logan Pause said. “We knew that we needed to be patient and we knew that we were controlling the game and we were creating chances. Then, finally, one bounced our way.”
But the lingering question that has followed the Fire for years remains: Who can be counted on to put away chances consistently? Is that player on the Fire roster? Can they win consistently if he's not?
MacDonald once again failed to score, and he fired an open shot straight into Gruenebaum's waiting hands. But the Fire Designated player thinks that, if the Fire play like they did on Saturday, they'll be just fine.
“I'm just pissed that I got a great chance and I was straight in front of goal and I tried to hit it in the corner and for some reason I hit it straight,” MacDonald told MLSsoccer.com. “But I felt very confident with the way we played today. We didn't give many chances away and the whole second half we pressed and finally we got the goal we deserved.”