There was little doubt of the game’s turning point or talking point, and veteran goalkeeper Jon Busch didn’t hold back when asked his opinion of the opening goal as the Chicago Fire fell to a controversial 2-1 defeat at the Montreal Impact on Wednesday.
In Brian Bliss’ first game in charge as interim head coach, the Fire fell behind to a Didier Drogba headed goal in the 39th minute, which only came to pass after the Ivorian appeared to wrestle defender Jeff Larentowicz to the ground.
Despite the visiting side’s complaints to referee Fotis Bazakos, the goal was allowed to stand, and the Fire were left reeling, with Busch emphatic in his condemnation of the decision.
“Obviously disappointed again with the loss, we created some good chances, on a different night some of those go in for us,” Busch said. “We’re also disappointed because we feel on the first goal that Drogba throws Jeff down, I mean, it’s obvious, and nothing’s called. As far as I’m concerned it’s unacceptable.”
The Fire did have their chances, with goalscorer David Accam registering his ninth of the season with an opportunist header in the 50th minute, but the Ghanaian winger scuffed his lines once in either half, while Impact ’keeper Evan Bush produced a spectacular save to deny Larentowicz's stooping header in the closing minutes.
“After that, I thought the boys responded great. We get the goal, tie it up, we had a couple of good looks to go up, we didn’t. And unfortunately we give up that second goal at the end,” Busch added.
“But the boys battled hard, I’m proud of them. It’s been a tough couple of days for everybody, an emotional couple of days, stressful and whatnot, but the boys kept fighting and battling. I’m disappointed we didn’t get something out of it because I think we deserved at least a point out of it.”
Bliss, who was appointed interim head coach on Sunday following the departure of Frank Yallop, was a little more diplomatic about the incident, which ultimately meant the Fire’s run without a victory on the road stretches to 23 games. Wednesday also marked a record 17th loss in one season for Chicago.
“We just looked at it on the replay and I’m sure they’ll look at it as well, and I think it was possibly a mistake on the refereeing side,” Bliss said. “It looks like a foul to me and I think to most people in the stands.
“But you know what, they’ve got to call it like they see it, we’ve got to live with it and we’ve got to still recover from that.”
Talking about the overall physicality of a contest in which eight cards were shown, including a late red card to Laurent Ciman, Bliss added: “In terms of the overall physical play, they’re scrapping for every point they can get to keep some of the teams off their heels in the playoff race. When we get down to the end of the season and points are as valuable as they are today, this is the kind of play you get and we’ve got to all man up and keep playing.”
Bliss also commended Bush on the amazing save of Larentowicz at the death to deny the Fire a point they certainly deserved.
“Credit to Evan Bush in goal, it was a fantastic save on Jeff’s header and made the difference in the game,” he said.