There are very few things that are worse for a Chicago Fire supporter than losing a match to Columbus Crew. Having gone 3-0 against their rivals in yellow already this season combined with the fact that the Fire finally moved into the 5th and final playoff position this week, things were looking up for this trip to Columbus. It took all of 15 minutes for everything to change.
Former Fire speedster Dominic Oduro put the Crew ahead with a goal in the 15’, but battling back after going down a goal early is something the Fire have become very accustomed to this season. It wasn’t in the cards on this night, however, because – well…Baky Soumare happened. In the 29’ Soumare made an ill-timed tackle on the Crew’s Jairo Arrieta just outside the box and earned a red card for his denial of a goal scoring opportunity.
Despite being down to ten men the Fire continued to fight and look for the equalizing goal, playing hard for the next 40 minutes. With their backs against the wall and still down 1-0, the Fire would suffer yet another calamity in the 69’ when Sean Johnson came off his line to try and stop Arrieta, taking him down in the box in the process. Federico Higuain converted the ensuing penalty and the match seemed to be over with the Crew up 2 goals and a man with less than 20 minutes remaining. The final nail would be pounded into the coffin a short 6 minutes later when Bernardo Anor tallied again for the home side making it 3-0 in their favor, the eventual final.
The good: Not a whole lot of good to come from this match for the Fire, but the two bright spots had to be the play of both Juan Luis Anangono and Jeff Larentowicz. Anangono continued to look like he may end up being worth the DP money that the Fire paid to get him. His creativity and skill both on and off the ball has been very impressive in the past few matches. The other bright spot was Jeff Larentowicz for his defensive play after the sending off of Baky Soumare. Larentowicz slotted back into the backline after Soumare was sent to take an early shower, and he handled the work fairly well given the circumstances. He made several crucial clearances when the game was still 1-0 and up for the taking.
The bad: Everything else. Baky Soumare’s horrible decision, the defending of Gonzalo Segares, and even the decision making of Sean Johnson were all bad on the night.
What does this result mean? : With the loss (and a NE win), the Fire fall out of the fifth and final playoff spot, and are now in sixth, just one point back, but once again on the outside looking in with remaining fixtures dwindling. More importantly, however, is that the three points taken by Columbus puts them right back in the mix just one point behind the Fire. With New England and Houston doing battle this weekend, Saturday’s home match against Montreal is another true six-pointer for the Men in Red.
(image courtesy of columbusunderground.com)