BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - Head coach Frank Yallop bemoaned his team’s inability to “get over the finish line with a win” as the Chicago Fire were held to a 1-1 draw by ten-man Toronto FC on a frustrating night for the hosts at rain swept Toyota Park.
Down a man in the 29th minute when Luke Moore saw red for an elbow on Chris Ritter, Ryan Nelson’s men went in front through Jackson before Harry Shipp pulled one back as the Fire piled on the pressure in the second half.
And despite bossing possession and hitting a whopping 20 shots to the visitors’ seven, the Fire failed to find the breakthrough as Toronto’s defense, superbly marshaled by Steven Caldwell and Nick Hagglund in front of ’keeper Joe Bendik, held firm.
“I thought we did enough to win the game, with ten men against 11 we should win the game,” Yallop told reporters after the game. “We had our chances but it’s frustrating. I’ve sat here a few times when we’ve tied and maybe deserved to win the game but we haven’t. It’s a weird situation, it’s frustrating, we can’t get over the finish line with a win.”
The draw stretched the Fire’s disappointing start to the season to nine draws and just two wins, with four defeats seeing them move above the Montreal Impact at the foot of the Eastern Conference on 15 points, ten points adrift of leaders Sporting Kansas City, whom they face this coming Sunday.
And Yallop cited the draw on another lapse in concentration, a common theme this season as the Fire have given up preventable goals at vital times. On this occasion, Jackson ghosted in unmarked to get on the end of a Jermain Defoe cross in the 42nd minute, with centerbacks Bakary Soumare and Patrick Ianni left marking thin air.
“The guys are frustrated in there, and we are as a staff, and me as the head coach,” he added. “It’s not from a lack of effort which is important, just lapses in concentration at the wrong time. We give them one or two chances and they score one goal, while we probably had five, six, seven, or eight chances and scored one. That’s the story of our season so far. It’s very frustrating.”
Captain Jeff Larentowicz echoed the thoughts of his coach, saying: “It’s disappointing. We talk about little things, there’s one chance in this game for the other team and we were second best.”
Yallop interrupted training on Monday to berate his players, who he thought needed a kick in the rear. But did what he say carry any weight into tonight’s performance?
“Yes, it did actually,” Larentowicz insisted. “What he said was taken in by everybody. There’s time left, however, but we can’t hang our head on ties at the end of the year. Home games, in-conference games, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”