October 21, 2012
Fire reaches playoffs, solid finish is next
FOXBOROUGH, Mass.---Now that the Chicago Fire have reached their goal of making the playoffs for the first time in four years, the team needs to figure out how to be more consistent if they have any hopes of a lengthy stay in the postseason.
|"I don’t think we did a lot well." Logan Pause on Fire's loss to New England.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Consistency certainly wasn’t on display in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution in front of a Gillette Stadium season high crowd of 25,534.
“We really just needed to raise our energy level,” said Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson. “That’s really what it was about. We just came out flat in the first half, so it was just about needing to get that extra spark to come out in the second half. We just came up a little short tonight.”
It was the Revolution who seemed to have the spark, perhaps energized by the large home crowd and the young legs of Diego Fagundez, who scored the only goal.
The 17-year-old Fagundez pulled up ahead of three slow-footed Chicago defenders and sent the 25-yard game-winner dipping into the left inside netting past Johnson in the 17th minute.
“(Diego Fagundez is) constantly moving. He's good in tight spaces, he's a smaller guy so obviously he's good with the ball and good in tight spaces,” said Fire coach Frank Klopas. “His ability to shoot and all that stuff. I think his mobility off the ball, and [he] is a dangerous guy because mobility is very important and I think he has a knack for being in a good spot.”
The loss, coupled with DC United’s 3-2 win over Columbus, dropped the Fire (17-11-5, 56 points) from second to third place in the MLS East. The Revs improve to 8-17-8, 32 points.
“The whole conference is kind of tight,” said Klopas.” It's exciting to be at the end. Our goal was to be in the playoffs so now it's important where you finish. I think that it's very important to have home field advantage and not to play that extra game. We have a game at home now and we have to go back and regroup and focus and get the three points at home which will put us in second place. “
The Fire didn’t have a solid look at goal until the 72nd minute, when left back Gonzalo Segares got behind the New England defense only to slice his left-footed effort wide of goal. Patrick Nyarko had the only Chicago shot on goal, a weak side-volley that was handled easily by New England ‘keeper Bobby Shuttleworth in the 85th minute.
“To be honest, I don’t think we did a lot well,” said Fire midfielder Logan Pause. “I mean, I think we came in knowing it was going to be a hard game, and this is one of those games you got to learn from. You know hopefully that’s the best thing that comes out of today is that we learn from it and know that from here on out every game is going to be hard, and move forward.
“The rest of the games now are going to be a dogfight. Sometimes it’s not the prettiest soccer, but you’ve got to fight and claw and know that every point. Every possession matters, every point matters, and you know it’s going to be no different next Saturday against D.C.”