It is games like these that come back to bite you. Games at home when you cannot find a way to win on the road. Contests against teams around you in the table. Games that can bring you to within two wins of a playoff spot.
It’s the games where you have a win slip through your fingers. Who knows if the Chicago Fire will be in or around the playoff spots come November, but if the Fire miss out on a playoff spot by one point just like last season, you can point to this game.
The Fire let a 2-0 lead evaporate into thin air as D.C. scored two late goals in the last ten minutes to even things up.
Gastón Giménez opened up the scoring in the 32nd minute with a powerful header that just snuck past D.C. keeper Bill Hamid. It was Giménez’s first goal for the club since he joined in 2020. The shot was a phenomenal header with great accuracy.
“I’m very happy to score my first goal in MLS,” said Giménez. “I was looking for that spot. I was trying to anticipate the defender, and so I was trying to [head] the ball there.”
But, Giménez would not have scored the opening goal if it was not for Bobby Shuttleworth, who once again cemented himself as one of the better keepers in MLS.
Shuttleworth saved a breakaway shot as Nigel Robertha found his way on goal after a Mauricio Pineda error. He then saved a powerful header off a corner from Frédéric Brillant, as both saves were within one minute of each other.
Shuttleworth continued to stand on his head in the second half as well, showing off remarkable reflexes as he kept out a sure goal from Yordy Reyna.
The Fire keeper kept the ball out of the net long enough for the Fire to double their lead, albeit with a bit of luck. Miguel Ángel Navarro received the ball on the wing and drove home a low cross. However, the ball was deflected off D.C. defender Andy Najar and found the back of the net for a D.C. own goal.
The Fire looked to be heading towards a third straight win at Soldier Field, but Kevin Paredes had other ideas. The 18-year old slotted home an excellent shot off the post to halve United’s deficit in the 82nd minute.
The Fire were on the back foot and questionable substitutions by caretaker manager Frank Klopas, who did not bring on a single defender, made you think that the Fire lead could disappear in an instant.
To the Fire’s credit, D.C. United did not have a single shot attempt after that Paredes goal, but a mental mistake by Jonathan Bornstein led to a foul in the box. Ola Kamara calmly put the ball past Shuttleworth from the spot, and within the span of five minutes, the Fire lead was gone.
“I think when you are playing at home and you drop points, it’s always a missed opportunity,” Klopas said. “We have to keep our heads up and we have to go back tomorrow and start focusing on Toronto coming in a couple days, that’s all you can do.”
The Fire play hosts once more on Saturday night as Toronto FC come to town. Toronto recently fired their manager, Chris Armas, after a brutal start to the season. The Fire will certainly look at this game as one where three points must be taken if playoffs are to continue to be a serious possibility.