Put it in the past and move on. That was the consensus from the Chicago Fire locker room after Saturday’s disappointing 2-0 reverse at the Columbus Crew put an emphatic halt to their two-game winning streak.
Head coach Frank Yallop led with an admission that his team lacked sharpness as they struggled to come to terms with a Crew side that entered the game without a win in eight games.
“We seemed flat from the first whistle,” Yallop acknowledged after a listless performance in which the absence of MLS MVP and talisman Mike Magee due to injury was sorely felt. “The guys seemed up for the game, but we weren’t sharp.
“We have a few guys out at the moment, so there’s not a lot we can change. We just have to keep working, and it’s one of those games where Columbus was better than us tonight, they deserved to win the match. You have to take the defeat and move on.”
In addition to missing Magee, the Fire were without regular starters Lovel Palmer, Patrick Nyarko, Bakary Soumare and Alex.
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who has yet to keep a clean sheet in 11 games this season, was equally frank in his assessment of a game that the Fire never looked like getting back into after conceding two goals within the first 25 minutes.
Despite the many absences, Johnson refused to cite that as reason for their third defeat of the season.
“I think you can’t really come up with any excuses,” Johnson insisted. “You can’t really look to blame a different line-up or different person. We are all on the same team. We all train together on the pitch and prepare ourselves for match day. I think it’s down to what we do when we step on the field. We are more than capable of meshing together for 90 minutes and getting a result.”
Captain Jeff Larentowicz, who endured a difficult night alongside midfield partner Benji Joya and Joya's halftime replacement Logan Pause, also played down the absence of key players and insisted that on another night they may have left the Columbus Crew Stadium with all three points.
“Every road game in this league is a difficult game,” Larentowicz said. “However, every road game is a winnable game if you’re playing right, if you’re turned on at the right moments. Today, we weren’t.”