For the second straight week, the Chicago Fire had a chance to hold out for a satisfactory result as time wore down. But for the second straight game, that chance was snatched away just minutes before the referee blew his final whistle.
Last week, a goal by Houston's Adam Moffat in the dying seconds of a 1-1 draw took two points away from the Fire in gut-wrenching fashion. Saturday night, an own-goal by Gonzalo Segares in the 89th minute ended their chances of stealing a crucial point on the road, falling to the Seattle Sounders 2-1 at CenturyLink Field.
“It's a tough one,” captain Logan Pause told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “If you look at the game as a whole, there were points where we were pretty pleased with how we played. It was just an unfortunate result. We've got to forget about it quick, though.”
After Lamar Neagle equalized in the 40th minute, the teams were deadlocked. But deep into the second half, after Bakary Soumare deflected a cross, Segares mis-hit it and the ball went straight into an open goal.
Despite that, Chicago conceded 78 percent of possession from the 80th to the 85th minute and 60 percent thereafter, but Pause said the team wasn't bunkering for a tie.
“As the game wore on, one point was, we felt like, [a tie] was the bare minimum,” he said. “It's not to say that we were bunkering in. We were still trying to score and get the three points. I don't think we were satisfied, we thought of that as the minimum.”
The fifth and final playoff spot remains within reach – the Fire are still just two points behind Houston and New England and four behind Philadelphia with a game in hand.
But that spot remained elusive on Saturday, and chances to make up ground are dwindling. Their next shot comes when they play Toronto FC on Wednesday night in Canada.
“I think we do believe that we're right in there," Pause said, "but we also know the reality, that the window to gain ground is getting smaller and we need to take advantage of the games that we play, especially the conference games that are coming up. We feel absolutely like we're right there within striking distance, we just need to make sure that we take advantage of our opportunities.”