Fire Set MLS Record With Another Draw

chicago fire - victory

Photo by Daveblog

In the land of draws, the Chicago Fire are kings.

Last night, La Maquina Roja looked well on their way to their third win of the season after dominating DC United at home for about 70 minutes. Sebastian Grazzini had given the home side the lead early in the second half and United’s attack looked spent.  However, two second half substitutions by DC coach Ben Olsen turned the game as the visitors were able to grab a goal and hold on for a point, etching Chicago’s name in the record books.  The draw was Chicago’s fifteenth on the year (out of 24 matches), setting an MLS record for most ties in a season.

Both teams are original MLS franchises and have a healthy rivalry, so the game was electric from the start.  The 15,000 plus at Toyota Park witnessed their team get off to a quick start with Dominic Oduru consistently getting behind the DC defense and setting up some quality scoring chances.  But, in a statement that I could cut and paste repeatedly for the description of this game, Oduru could not finish his shots and failed to take advantage of the space he created.  As such, Chicago abused the DC defense but failed to score any early goals.  Also hindering their efforts was the solid play of DC keeper Bill Hamid, who made a great save on Marco Pappa in the 30th minute and was a solid presence in net.  However, in the final seconds of the first half, Hamid strained his hamstring on a free kick and was forced to leave the game at halftime.

Grazzini made DC pay in the 59th minute and finally scored after so many chances.  Patrick Nyarko beat Dejan Jakovic on the right and sent in a cross that Daniel Woolard couldn’t clear.  Grazzini had no such troubles and sent a shot that went off backup keeper Steve Cronin’s hands and into the net.

To start the match, Ben Olsen had made the curious decision to start midfielder Steve King atop his midfield diamond instead of Santino Quaranta, who had been playing well of late.  Olsen, seeing the need for a change of pace, made this switch in the 71st minute and two minutes later it paid off.  DC had begun to threaten the Chicago defense after Sean Johnson had basically been able to lounge in the first half, when MVP candidate Dwayne De Rosario found Quaranta atop the Chicago box.  The midfielder made a pass over the top to second half sub Josh Wolff (who had come on earlier for an ineffective Charlie Davies) and Wolff sent a rocket to the top of the net for DC’s only shot on goal and only goal.  Replays showed Wolff was likely a step offside but it was a very close play.

The result for the Fire was another draw and devastation.  Chicago dominated the match, outshooting DC 14-6 and they looked like they were on their way to only their third victory of the season.  They were undone by absolutely atrocious finishing in the first half and poor defensive attention in the second, a combination Fire fans have seen over and over.  Even with nemesis Hamid out of the net in the second half, the Fire had really only a few scoring chances and failed to definitely put DC away.  This one will sting for a while.

DC, on the other hand, has to be happy with the result.  After being dominated for most of the match, they get a valuable point and move into a tie with New York for fifth in the East.  A win against Kansas City on Sunday could move them up to third in the conference, and they still have games in hand against most of the teams ahead of them.  But there were two troubling results from this game for DC.  The first is the health of Bill Hamid; he was in serious pain after the first half and does not look like he will play Sunday.  Cronin, who has been erratic at best, now looks to be the starter in a very critical match against KC.  The second troubling issue is the disappearance of Charlie Davies.  The forward was absent most of the sixty minutes he was on the pitch and the few times he got himself into scoring position, he could not do anything productive with the ball.  Either his confidence or an unseen physical ailment is hindering him, and either is a major concern for DC.

9 Responses to Fire Set MLS Record With Another Draw

  1. Rob says:

    Alright, I’ll be the first to point out that the Fire aren’t an original team. They played their first game in ’98, as opposed to DC and the rest of the league’s start in ’96. So close, but not quite.

    Oduro is setting up a lot of chances, but he isn’t finishing any of them off. I’d rather see Barouch or Nazarit up there.

    Grazzini’s play is enjoyable and I think it was a mistake taking him out of the game. This was a game that could be won, worry about Sunday’s game on Sunday. As one of the few players out there with a pulse, he should’ve stayed on.

    I didn’t even realize Pavel Pardo was out there for most of the game. Great signing, Frank. It obviously turned the team around.

    • Michael says:

      While they’re not original, the Fire were only the second team to win the MLS Cup. The first was DC, so that adds another component to their history/rivalry.

  2. Chris G says:

    The Chicago Fire were not a founding member of MLS, they joined in 1998. Also, Steven King had a great game last week, scored a goal after coming off of the bench. With the KC game coming up on Sunday I think Benny wanted to rest Tino (especially since he is still trying to come back after his long layoff with the concussion) for that game. As for the offsides, he was off (barely) but the defender was running back as the ball was being played so in real time for a linesman it would be an incredibly tough call. The rules give the benefit to the attacker now so I can see why he left it as a no call.

    The Fire played quite well, especially Nyarko (VT represent!) and I am quite glad DC got a point out of it. There was lots of talk about DC’s resurgence after their home win, how Chicago loses to DC at home and how the Fire are close to this draw record and I knew DC would come out a bit over confident and probably blow it, I’m glad Wolffie got that goal.

    Really upset with the Hamid injury, especially since his replacement for last week, Joe Willis, is out with back spasms after having such a great game against Vancouver. The game against KC is going to be tough and while I hope for a win, I’m thinking a draw will still be an ok outcome.

    Though Jakovic was the best player for DC last night and I’m so glad he’s back. He and McDonald are playing great as a central pair.

  3. Alex says:

    I was hoping for a united win so they can bump the energy drinks off the playoff zone (which is pretty big) but watching that game was really really boring. It’s easy to see why fire are down in the table they are sloppy like a bunch of ten year olds playing. Disgusting play. I was away when they subbed out hamid but that shot was pretty hard. I think hamid would have stopped it.

    BTW I just want to add Toyota park and Rio tinto are two of the ugliest stadiums in mls. That stage and low level seating makes it look puny and the roof is ridiculously tall for seats soo little. Red bull may be nice but sporting park is by far the nicest stadium

  4. Robert Hay says:

    Hi folks – Chicago’s been around so long I forgot they didn’t join the league in ’96. Thus the change above. Thanks for keeping me honest.

  5. Robert says:

    Good o’l parity

  6. Draws/Ties are not a bad thing if the American public gets used to them. As for the organization, ties are only good when the majority of the rest of your games are wins. If this is the case, the public can get accustomed to drawing (sorry for the pun) satisfaction out of a deadlock.

    • Alex says:

      Yes I agree. Ties are part of soccer its part of the essence of the sport, however its the frequency of ties that makes this league , and fire for that matter, stand out. The only thing that makes teams distinct from one another is their names

    • The original Tom says:

      AmericanizeSoccer- I agree; and I think the abolition of ties has been bad for College Football and Hockey because the way they break them is sort of cheesey. College Football, especially, is better with ties because it put pressure on the favored team if a game is tied deep in the 4th quarter.

      I think a 10 tie limit (or more accurately, you only get a point for your first 10 ties, then zero for any additional ties) would be good because it would encourage teams to not settle for them. Ultimately though, the play-off system is responsible for ties. 8 teams would be better, or if more, a single bracket/table system in which it is clearly a big disadvantage to a a low seed would be better.

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