Just when you think they’ve finally turned the corner, the Chicago Fire go out and remind you why they only have four league wins this year.
With momentum at their backs and their playoff hopes on the line, the Fire turned in a surprisingly listless performance Saturday night in a 2-0 loss at San Jose, ending their three-game winning streak in all competitions.
Chicago’s offensive play was particularly poor. The whole team struggled to string anything together and failed to create a good rhythm, turning in a weak performance that stood in stark contrast to the good attacking form the team displayed during their winning run.
“I thought our group moving forward wasn’t necessarily as fluid as it has been,” Fire left back Dan Gargan told MLSsoccer.com by phone from San Jose. “I think that we’ve been better and I didn’t think that our movement was as good as it has been.”
The Fire, who lost the possession battle and competed a paltry 69 percent of their passes, didn’t create many chances Saturday night, registering just four shots on goal. When they did get good looks, they struggled with their finishing, with Gargan putting a breakaway off the post in the 17th minute and forward Dominic Oduro hitting a one-on-one directly at San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch in first-half stoppage time.
Playmaker Sebastián Grazzini wasn’t his usual dynamic self either, struggling to make an impact on the game and failing to set up any chances for the Fire.
“I thought we were a little bit stagnant and we didn’t move the ball as quickly as we can,” said Gargan. “I thought we could’ve moved on the ball a bit quicker, I thought we could’ve moved off the ball a bit quicker. I think that we have been more successful when we do that and we didn’t do that tonight.”
The loss drops Chicago farther back in the playoff standings, seven points behind DC for the 10th and final playoff spot with just seven games remaining.
“We were a little disjointed in our attack from the back to the front,” Gargan said. “That kind of slowed us down a bit moving forward. It’s unfortunate; it’s disappointing.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.