The turning point of the Chicago Fire’s 4-2 loss to D.C. United, Fire defender Gonzalo Segares said, came when United forward Chris Pontius took a shot that was so bad, it turned into a cross.
Dwayne De Rosario was able to beat Segares (above, left) and defender Austin Berry to the loose ball and slot the game’s opening goal into an empty net, setting the tone for a rough night on the road for the Fire.
“We were confident that the ball was going to go out,” Segares told MLSsoccer.com. “We weren’t expecting it to be there right at the end … Once they scored, we had to stay with the high pressure coming back.”
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After that first goal, the Fire’s normally-compact defensive shape became stretched, and the Fire unraveled, ending their three-game winning streak.
Midfielder Daniel Paladini was able to equalize the game in the 44th minute, but D.C. United came back with a goal from Lionard Pajoy on an open header just two minutes later.
“I think we were very, very unorganized today,” Segares said. “In the past, we’ve been a team that is very compact, and today was the opposite. We were very stretched, and they took advantage of that, finding space for players like [De Rosario]. They found a lot of space and were able to run at us.”
For the second straight game, the Fire were missing defensive midfielder Logan Pause, who is out four to six weeks after breaking two ribs last week against Philadelphia.
The Fire captain is usually responsible for breaking up the opposition’s attack, so his loss affected the Fire’s counter-attack defense.
“Defensively, he covers a lot of ground, and he destroys a lot of plays for the opposing team,” Segares said. “He’s a player in the midfield that we definitely missed. On a day like today, when we were so stretched out, it would have been a game where he could cover a lot of ground.”
But Segares didn’t think Pause’s absence was any excuse for the loss against a team that had only won one game in its last five. Fifth-place United now trail the Fire by just one point with a game in hand.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter,” Segares said. “I think we were really bad, mentally. We weren’t ready, and they were better prepared than us ... D.C. wanted it more than us. They won every 50/50 ball, and that was the difference in the game.”