BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Chicago Fire continued what seems like an inevitable march toward history on Saturday night, drawing Columbus Crew 1-1 at Toyota Park to tie their 13th game of the season.
The result was enough for Columbus (6-7-9, 27 points) to remain in playoff position in the crowded Eastern Conference, putting the Crew in fifth place, one point ahead of the New England Revolution. Chicago (3-5-13, 22 points) remain in eighth place in the East, five points out of a playoff spot and just three draws away from matching the all-time record for ties in a season – a mark currently held by the 2011 Fire.
Leading 1-0 at the break thanks to Mike Magee’s 37th-minute penalty, the Fire were stung by the Crew’s response just 12 seconds into the second half, as Federico Higuain capitalized on some hesitant defending to slot home past Sean Johnson.
The Fire were unchanged from Wednesday’s 0-0 tie with the Vancouver Whitecaps, with captain Jeff Larentowicz continuing at center back.
The visitors made two changes from the team that topped the New England Revolution 2-1 last Saturday, with Tyson Wahl replacing Chad Barson in defense and Ben Speas starting in place of Bernardo Anor in midfield.
Magee put the hosts in front in the 37th minute, slotting his spot kick past Columbus ‘keeper Steve Clark and into the lower-right corner for his sixth goal of the season. Grant Ward earned the PK for Chicago, collecting a ball in the right side of the box and flicking a cross off the arm of Wahl, who was whistled for a handball.
Higuain pulled Columbus level moments into the second half. Larentowicz missed a header in the Fire’s third and Higuain evaded a tackle from Patrick Ianni to poke home just 12 seconds into the final 45.
Johnson then produced a superb instinctive save with his left foot off a great Speas strike in the 53rd minute to maintain parity as the visitors continued to press forward. Johnson saved again from Adam Bedell in the 59th minute before he came to the Fire’s rescue two minutes later when he denied Ethan Finlay a certain goal from two yards.
Substitute Razvan Cocis had a great look at a winner in second-half stoppage time, but somehow failed to put his shot on frame after Magee picked him out on the doorstep with a cross from the left wing.
Both sides will return to action next weekend, with the Crew hosting Toronto FC in Trillium Cup action on August 9 and the Fire welcoming the New York Red Bulls to Toyota Park a day later.
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Sean Johnson||Preserved a point for the Fire with a pair of fantastic second half saves on Ben Speas and Ethan Finlay.|
|2||Federico Higuain||Took advantage of some shoddy defending to pull the Crew level and was his usual creative self, pulling strings in the midfield.|
|3||Ethan Finlay||Was in the middle of everything positive for the Crew, though he likely should’ve done better with a point-blank second half chance.|