Chicago Fire FC coach Raphael Wicky shouts instructions
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Raphael Wicky: Defeat at Orlando City SC a microcosm of Chicago Fire FC's tough 2020 season

On paper, Chicago Fire FC had plenty of moments to earn a positive result Saturday night when visiting Orlando City SC.

But the odds weren’t in their favor in the 4-1 defeat, leaving head coach Raphael Wicky to rue the pattern that's emerged as they dropped to 0-3-2 in their last five games. Chicago have won just once in their last nine matches, occupy last place in the Eastern Conference standings (14th) and have one of the league’s worst goal differentials at minus-10.

“All these little things right now are not going our way,” Wicky said during his post-match press conference. “Sometimes in life that happens. I don't know why, I don't have the answer for that. I am still pleased with a lot of things I see, creating so many chances, scoring goals. 

“I say the same as what I always do: We have to keep working at it, but we have to become better in both ends otherwise we will talk all year about that, and at the end of the day it will be a fancy hand. It's nice to play good, it's nice to create, but we got to be better on both ends of the field.”

The lengthy list of frustrations started when Robert Beric and Ignacio Alisdea both struck the woodwork in the first half. Then Video Review waved off two goals, first on Francisco Calvo’s header in the 27th minute (Elliot Collier offside in buildup) and then on Boris Sekulic’s pinball-like finish in the 56th minute (Mauricio Pineda offside in buildup).

Go one step further, and Chicago scored on just one of their two penalty kicks. Beric calmly scored in the 48th minute, but only after a kerfuffle with teammate Alvaro Medran over who’d take their first PK in the 36th minute. The Spaniard eventually won that battle and his attempt was saved by Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese. Wicky even conceded postgame that they didn't have a designated PK taker.

Highlights: Orlando City SC 4, Chicago Fire FC 1

Chicago attempted 19 shots and had a 54-46 edge in possession. But like last weekend's 2-2 draw with Columbus Crew SC, they were left licking their wounds when the final whistle blew.

"It reflects a little bit the whole season," Wicky said. "We're playing well, we're creating a lot of big, big chances, we're giving up too many, two easy goals again. But it reflects a little bit the whole season where right now, for whatever reason, those little things go against us. They don't fall to our side."

CJ Sapong said there’s optimism in the locker room that results will turn, and luck can be a two-edged sword. He referenced how Junior Urso’s 78th-minute goal that went in off the post, plus how Chris Mueller’s opener in the 11th minute involved a couple deflections – two moments that Orlando benefited from.

“If you look on the flip side for them, you have a goal that goes in off the post, you have a goal that takes a deflection and trickles in,” Sapong said. “They get two goals disallowed for the opposing team. It's easy to say that there was luck on their side. Luck is what they say when preparation meets opportunity, so that's where we have to do our due diligence and keep preparing the right way. Then when we get the opportunity or we get those chances we put them away.”

The Fire return to action Wednesday when hosting the Houston Dynamo (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; DAZN in Canada). Despite another setback, Wicky said they have to stay upbeat and turn their season around. 

“Heads up, my first message to the players is head up,” Wicky said. “I mean, look, I was a player. A player feels when you play really bad and you have no chance and you lose 4-1 or a player also feels when you actually are playing well with a certain amount of games and think that the ideas are there."


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