The Chicago Fire failed to score a goal for a fourth straight match to extend their winless streak to five (0-3-2) with a 0-0 draw at the Columbus Crew on Saturday.
Gabriel Slonina made nine saves for his second consecutive shutout and 12th this season for the Fire (8-13-8), who did not have a shot on target in the first half. He made five saves Wednesday in a 0-0 draw at the New England Revolution.
“At the end of the season, at the end of the day, we want to make the playoffs," Slonina said. "So I'm happy for that accolade, but it would be better if I made three saves and we got the win. The clean sheet is nice, but obviously, like we were just talking, we want to get as much points as possible. So going for the win is the most important.”
Chris Mueller scored Chicago's last goal Aug. 13 in a 4-1 loss at the Philadelphia Union. The Fire entered that match on a five-match unbeaten streak (4-0-1). Chicago lost Gaston Gimenez for the season due to a hamstring tear suffered in Philadelphia. Since then, the Fire lost 2-0 to the New York City FC and CF Montreal before facing New England.
Eloy Room made one save for his 10th shutout for the Crew (9-16-13), who are 4-0-1 in their past five matches.
Slonina, who will transfer to Chelsea of the Premier League in January, made his best save of the night in stoppage time in the first half. The 18-year-old Addison native dove to his right to block Derrick Etienne Jr.'s strike.
Slonina made another highlight-reel save in the 61st minute on Lucas Zelarayan's shot off a breakaway.
"We did well but with the ball, the transition from defending to attacking, again, tonight, was not up to par where it needs to be," Fire manager Ezra Hendrickson said. "We're turning the ball over too much, too easily, sometimes with no pressure, unforced errors. We need to clean that up, but definitely want to keep the clean sheets and be better on the attacking end of things.
"Right now it's not good enough. We need to get points, especially at home, coming up next weekend, we have to get the full three points and then still go on the road and pick up three points at Cincy, Montréal, one of those teams."
The Fire sit six points back of Cincinnati for the seventh and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Crew have a two-point edge on Cincinnati and are in the sixth spot.
Chicago Fire at Columbus Crew: Sept. 3, 2022
What's On Tap Next For The Fire?
The Chicago Fire host Inter Miami on Saturday, Sept. 10 at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview. Kickoff is set for 7 PM CT.