October 3, 2012
Kathryn L. Knapp
Fire lacking defense in loss
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Defense is always a must for teams. But with the playoffs on the horizon, defense becomes more and more important with every match. Wednesday night, the Fire lacked defense and it showed in the team’s 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union.
“We have to work and defend first,” Fire defender Arne Friedrich said. “Tonight, we forgot to defend. We had a good couple of months. We were always good when we were defending as a team and in good defensive shape.”
Wednesday night, Philadelphia scored just seven minutes into the match, forcing the home team to fight back from behind. The first half ended with just two shots for the Fire. Second half, they picked up the pace. But before they could find the back of the net. Philadelphia had a 2-0 lead.
“The first few minutes, our game plan kind of backfired,” Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko said. “They slipped through and we were chasing the game. The second game kind of put it out of reach. But we were determined to fight back.”
Chicago cut the lead within one and looked strong. But then a red card to Guillermo Franco changed the pace once again. Down a man and a goal, the Fire pushed forward, but as the defenders moved forward to help the attack, Philadelphia fell back and found the net for a third time. Chicago dropped its second straight match, falling 3-1 to the Union.
The Fire have forced 43 goals this season, while opponents registered 39. The gap is getting smaller with every game. While the Fire has been good at playing catch up, the last two matches are an indication that that’s not always the way it’s going to be.
“It’s not always going to go your way,” Nyarko said. “Your luck runs out at some point.”
The Fire dropped a 2-0 decision at Sporting Kansas City on Friday and then a 3-1 loss tonight. Being outscored 5-1 in two matches and losing two important matches was not in the Fire’s game plan.
“We all said that in Kansas City we needed to lose to go forward,” Nyarko said. “Now we lost another game. Saturday is going to be a tough game. But that’s when our character comes out. We hope to get a good result.”
With three games left, the Fire has to put it all out there in every game for the remainder of the season. Saturday’s match vs. New York is one of the biggest of the three, since the two clubs are currently knotted up at second place in the Eastern Conference. For the Fire players, they said it’s time to return to their game plan.
“We have to do the same things that we know,” Fire forward Sherjill MacDonald said. “We felt good this week at training before the game. The next game is going to be very hard. Being at home tonight was the perfect opportunity to win.”
Nyarko said sometimes digging deep works best. “We need to play with desperation,” he said. “We still think we’re in it until the end. Tonight we were a little bit too late. But we never give up. When we play with desperation we score goals.”