One point at a time. After tying DC United 2-2, the Chicago Fire have now earned draws in three straight matches to follow up a season opening loss at Chivas USA. The Fire are still winless on 2014 but with each match they seem to take shape and build on the previous result.
Rookie Harry Shipp was named to the starting XI for the third straight week, and continued his early career success with an assist on a 27th minute goal from Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. Hurtado’s goal came out of nowhere as DC had the better of the possession and chances in the first thirty minutes. A 35th minute strike from Fabian Espindola saw the teams head into the dressing room level at 1-1.
The second half saw some chances, great saves and a goal line clearance, but it looked as though neither side was going to get a winner. In the 73rd minute Perry Kitchen found the back of the net for the home side and DC was poised to break their 7 month winless streak and send the Men in Red back to Chicago with nothing to show for their trip. With less than 10 minutes left in the match and down a goal, second half substitute Patrick Nyarko made a beautiful move on the right side of the box and played a perfect ball through to Quincy Amarikwa who banged it home to level the match. A flurry of late shots by both sidescouldn’t provide a winner and an exciting match ended at 2-2 which seemed fair given the play of both sides.
It was the third straight draw for the Fire and the third straight match with some promising play from some of the younger players in the side. The biggest disappointment on the day was the play of newcomer Benji Joya who was subbed off after 56 largely ineffective minutes. Joya was replaced by Patrick Nyarko who returned to the bench this week after serving a one game suspension against New York. Nyarko had been a touch off through the first two matches, but really showed the skill we’ve come to expect from him when brought on for Joya on Saturday, I’d expect to see Nyarko starting over Joya against Philadelphia this weekend.
All in all, things are clicking little by little. The backline has already suffered some injury and suspension related absences and they need to be better at defending set pieces, but they’re certainly better than last seasons back four. Through the first four weeks, Bakary Soumare has been one of the best defenders in MLS, in my opinion.
Next up: v. Philadelphia – April 5, 4:00 CDT
(image courtesy of chicago-fire.com)