It’s been the same old story game after game for the Chicago Fire so far in 2021. Thursday night’s 1-0 loss to D.C. United marked yet another frustrating chapter in what has been a lackluster start to the season. One has to wonder what new answers, if any, head coach Raphael Wicky and these players will have to explain it away.
A poor defensive mistake in the seventh minute led to the game’s only goal. Boris Sekulić could not handle a pass at the edge of the box. Adrien Perez received the ball and dribbled it to the touchline, lobbing a beautiful cross to an unmarked Edison Flores, who headed the ball into the Fire net. It was the designated player’s first goal for D.C. United.
More Fire mistakes led to additional chances for United as a corner in the 20th minute was taken short. Francisco Calvo whiffed on the eventual ball into the box, which ricocheted right into the path of Julian Gressel. The winger struck it sweetly but right onto the crossbar.
It was homegrown talent Brian Gutiérrez who provided the best chances for the Fire in the first half. The 17-year-old made his first career MLS start and repaid Wicky’s faith with two strong chances. The first chance resulted from a bit of luck in the box as the ball remained at his feet with the shot hit sweetly, but it was right at Jon Kempin.
Gutiérrez’s second chance came in the 37th minute when Berić passed him the ball at the edge of the 18-yard box. The youngster brought the ball on his left foot and hit a curling shot off the outside of the post.
Man of the Match Adrien Perez led a D.C. counter-attack in the dying seconds of the first half and forced a save out of Shuttleworth. The Fire were only down one at halftime.
Chicago played better in the second half as they not only possessed more of the ball, but were also more effective with it. Wicky subbed off Gastón Giménez at halftime due to an apparent injury, but Álvaró Medrán played well without him. The midfielder bossed the game, spraying balls all across the pitch.
That is not to say D.C. went without chances of their own. Medrán had to put his body on the line to save a sure goal off a corner that was not cleared effectively. Flores almost came up with his second goal of the game, heading a Gressel cross low and hard to force a Shuttleworth save at his near post.
The Fire grew into the game more and more as the second half wore on. Boris Sekulić and Przemysław Frankowski combined for some clever play on the Fire’s right-hand side. Elliot Collier had one of the best chances from this setup, a deflected shot right into the hands of Kempin.
But the best chance of the half came in stoppage time as Frankowski crossed a ball in from the left side. The ball was met by Fabian Herbers, who was making his season debut, but was smashed off the cross-bar. That would be the last chance of the match as the Fire came away empty-handed.
The Fire now are winless under Raphael Wicky when giving up the first goal, they have not won a road game in 584 days, and they’ve gone 314-plus minutes without a goal.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Fire have eight days off until their next match, a home game against Inter Miami at 5 PM CT on Saturday, May 22nd. The match will air on WGN or CFFC Live in the Chicagoland area and ESPN+ outside of Chicagoland.