After a result that saw “tie kings” Chicago Fire set a new MLS record for most draws in a season, head coach Frank Yallop lamented his side’s failure to score more wins as they snatched a point at the death to secure their 17th draw at the Philadelphia Union on Thursday.
Both sides managed just two shots each on target throughout a lackluster 90 minutes that will be celebrated more in New York, Columbus and Toronto, perhaps, but the playoff-chasing Union will feel more aggrieved after going ahead through Amobi Okugo in the 88th minute before being pegged back by Robert Earnshaw’s dramatic injury-time strike which tied the game at 1-1.
“I still think in those 17 ties, there was six games that we should have gotten the three points,” Yallop told reporters at PPL Park. “Not all of them, but some of them. And that makes a difference in the table. I’m not going to say I’m proud of that stat, but if you have 10 wins and 17 ties, you’re rolling. But it isn’t that way. We haven’t won enough games and it shows on the table.”
“All season, we’ve just been the tie kings, if you like,” he added. "At this point, with our group, you know, it’s growing and we’ve got to add quality to it next season.”
Wayward finishing and a lack of composure in front of goal saw the hosts restricted to just the two shots on frame. Interim coach Jim Curtin had to plan without the injured Conor Casey and Sebastien Le Toux, and Yallop agreed that their absence helped the Fire’s cause on the night.
“Obviously Conor Casey’s a big player, Le Toux’s a huge player for them, so missing probably the two most influential players at this time of the season you don’t want to be missing those guys,” he said as the Fire (5-8-17, 32 pts) remain nine points adrift of the playoff places.
“I don’t think we played very well, we didn’t really move the ball well, we didn’t create any great chances, but we hung in there and got the result in the end,” Yallop reflected on the game. “I think Philly had enough chances to win the game.”
The first half was as poor a contest produced by either side this year, with the Union (9-10-12, 39 points) only marginally better than their cautious visitors.
The second period saw a slight improvement from both sides, before a dramatic finale, quite customary for the Fire this season, saw both teams find the net to ensure the tie that neither team wanted.
The main positive Yallop took from the result was the Fire’s resilience and ability to salvage something from a game that seemed to have slipped away after the Union’s late strike.
“Like we do, we do find a way to come back into the game and get something out of it, so I was pleased with our reaction right away to get the tie,” he added. “We can play better and do all these things but we’re finding ways to get at least a point in games.”