Sherjill MacDonald
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Despite rough stretch, Chicago keeping confidence high

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chicago Fire defender Austin Berry knows he should have stepped up to stop New England midfielder Diego Fagundez’s 17th-minute shot that sunk Chicago in a 1-0 loss on Saturday.

The Fire know that they gave up six points that they should have seized in losses to Philadelphia and the Revolution over the last three weeks.

But the Men in Red are still a confident bunch – even after a stretch of three losses in four – and they aren’t emphasizing any common thread that has plagued them throughout the rough stretch.

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“[The losses to the Union and Revolution were] two different kind of games,” Berry said. “Philly was a bad defending kind of game for us. This game wasn’t a bad defending game for us. … We played well as a defensive unit, we just gave up a shot and then we didn’t do well with the ball and didn’t create opportunities.”

The Fire mustered just one shot on goal in the loss, as did New England. They never got in a rhythm after winning a big game in New York two weeks earlier.

“It was just a tough night for us,” forward Chris Rolfe said. “I think it was just a tough goal for us to give up early on and then it was just tough for us to get into the flow of the game.”

Chicago blamed the artificial turf at Gillette Stadium for much of their inability to create anything offensively, and coach Frank Klopas even sat defender Arne Friedrich, who said he was sore after practicing on turf for two days.

“They dropped off and it was a little bit tougher to move the ball with the turf,” Klopas said. “Our ball movement had to be better to create spaces, which there wasn’t many on that field. … My main concern coming away from the last game, playing on the turf, was coming away with no injuries.”

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The Fire came away with no injuries, but the loss created plenty of complications.

Now, a win on Saturday against D.C. United (4 pm ET; NBC Sports Network) may be the only way to ensure that they avoid the Knockout Round.

“[Last Saturday’s loss] was just one of those games you’ve got to forget about and move on,” Berry said. “Winning [against D.C.] is a big step for us to make sure we’re not one of the play-in games and making sure we have home-field advantage.”

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