ORLANDO, Fla. -- For all of their improvement this year, there are still some things the Chicago Fire can do better -- and going forward from a frustrating result that ended the Fire's four-match winning streak, taking control of a shorthanded opponent is on the must-improve list.
“I’m disappointed because we had to convert the two men up advantage,” coach Veljko Paunovic said after Sunday's scoreless draw against nine-man Orlando City SC. “It was okay to control the game, but it’s not enough. We have to understand we are not the team we were in the past. We are a team that could control the game and dictate the game, and it’s not enough to get a point in a game like this.
“So I am not happy with that mentality. I didn’t see the hunger in the final third. Maybe in the last couple of minutes we woke up from that lethargy we were in. But we have to improve. We have to learn to play these kinds of games, that’s why it is a good experience for us. The locker room is not happy on this.”
With a man advantage for almost three-quarters of the game, and a two-man benefit for the final quarter, Paunovic fully expected his men to bring home all three points. Instead, they settled for a split and were shut out for the first time since March 18.
The Fire dominated possession 66-34 percent overall and 70-30 in a completely one-sided second half, out-shot Orlando 21-5, yet put only six efforts on target and didn’t really press the home team significantly until the final 10 minutes even though the Lions went into a defensive shell and didn't take a shot after the break.
All that lack of production had Paunovic quietly fuming after the final whistle, and he made no bones about his feelings.
“I think we are the team that could now dictate and control the game,” Paunovic said. “We made adjustments at halftime. We spoke about what we needed to do, which is obviously moving the ball side to side and trying to finish the play 2-v-1 on the flanks and then penetrate inside and finish the actions.
“We started well and were aware of their transitions and the counterattack, which we did well on that side. But, as I said, the main point was lack of interest to get three points, so that’s something we have to install in our game and ourselves.”