Chicago Fire FC, already trailing 2-0, were awarded a penalty kick in the 34th minute of their Saturday evening match at Orlando City SC. It presented an ideal chance to close the gap on the Lions after Ruan handled a Djordje Mihailovic pass.
But some in-fighting quickly ensued.
Robert Beric, Chicago’s No. 9 and a Designated Player, protested vehemently with Alvaro Medran over who would take it. Center back and captain Francisco Calvo intervened, looking to settle the dispute, and eventually ushered Beric away as Medran lined up his shot.
If that wasn’t dramatic enough, the Spaniard’s attempt was saved when goalkeeper Pedro Gallese dove to his right and flashed a strong hand. The Peruvian rejoiced, though some friendly fire surely impacted the whole sequence.
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The match eventually finished as a 4-1 win for Orlando, and Chicago head coach Raphael Wicky addressed the ordeal during his post-match press conference. Wicky took responsibility for not assigning a PK taker at first, but gave the designation to Beric at halftime.
"I told the team in the halftime it's my fault, I take it on me," Wicky said, adding it will never happen again. "I didn't assign a player who takes the penalty. But then what happened after cannot happen, it's unacceptable. If a player says, 'I'm going to take it,' then the other player has to say, 'OK, I support you.' That didn't happen on the field, they were arguing and that's not the team we want to be. That's all I can say to that."
The plot only thickened from there, as Chicago were awarded another penalty kick in the 46th minute. There was no argument this go-around, and Beric confidently picked out the bottom corner to make it 2-1. Medran was even the first to congratulate him, suggesting they put any bad blood behind them.
Given the initial clash during Chicago’s first PK of the 2020 season, it was hard to ignore the broader context. The Slovenian had ice in his veins, setting up his team for a potential comeback.
The second PK was awarded after Orlando winger Chris Mueller clipped Fire left back Miguel Angel Navarro during his overlapping run. The Venezuelan youngster was slipped through by Ignacio Aliseda before Beric's finish in the 48th minute.