The Chicago Fire lost to FC Cincinnati at Soldier Field on Wednesday night, 1-0, bringing the Fire's record to 1-1-7. Unfortunately, the Fire's record is good for dead last in the MLS.
A magnificent free-kick goal by Alvaro Barreal for FC Cincinnati in the 50th minute was the only difference on the scoreboard between the two sides. However, the Fire were also significantly outplayed when it came to the underlying statistics.
Bobby Shuttleworth was forced into making 12 saves on the night, the most in his long career and a Chicago Fire record. The Fire keeper had to make nine saves in the first half alone, six in the first 20 minutes.
A high Cincinnati press forced the Fire into several defensive mistakes in the first half. Center-back and captain Francisco Calvo did not seem to have an answer for the error-prone back line. "I think mistakes are going to happen always. We're human."
Calvo continued, "Maybe it's a communication thing, maybe it's a technical mistake, I don't know."
What was more puzzling was how Cincinnati could not take advantage of Chicago's mistakes, a tell-tale sign of why they came into this match last in the MLS standings.
Both teams went into the break scoreless, with the Fire coming out of the break playing the better soccer of the two sides. But, Barreal's magic left foot finally broke the deadlock and put Cincinnati on the board. The Fire were going to have to do something they have not done in 19 attempts under Raphael Wicky: win a game after conceding the first goal.
It seemed as though the player at the left-most position of the wall, striker Robert Berić, simply didn't jump as the ball went over his head. Keeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who had the wind knocked out of him on the play, was asked by Second City if there was a mistake made along the wall.
"I'll have to look at it again, but I think the foul leading to the goal is soft," Shuttleworth said. "But I think it's a good free kick. I haven't watched it again so I'd have to look at it to know what kind of happened there and what we can do better."
It looked like Robert Berić could have done better. That theme was present throughout the night on the side of the field Berić is paid to play well on. The Fire created a few really good chances throughout the match, mainly involving their striker, whose 2nd-place finish in the MLS Golden Boot race last year seems all but a distance memory.
Berić first got in the way of a Luka Stojanović shot that looked destined for the back of the net. Then, Berić inexplicably didn't shoot when receiving the ball within the six-yard box. Instead, the striker had a first poor touch that rolled harmlessly to the Cincinnati goal keeper.
But in typical Fire fashion, frustration was not enough. Heartbreak had to settle in as a would-be equalizing goal in stoppage time was once again taken away from the Fire due to an admittedly correct offside call.
The Fire lost yet again. The Fire were shut out yet again. It has happened far too often so far this season.
"Wicky Out!" chants were heard from Sector Latino as the clock ran out of seconds. And while he's certainly not going to get fired tomorrow, the seat is officially fiery hot.