CHICAGO – This figured to be a moment where the club would be able to make up some ground after a very difficult start to the 2021 season.
FC Cincinnati came to Soldier Field tied with Chicago Fire FC for the lowest point total in Major League Soccer. Each team had managed just four before they met in Chicago on Wednesday and hoped for something to break as they met for 90 minutes.
But even that wasn’t enough to shake the Fire out of their slump, as their opponents sent them to the bottom of the standings in MLS.
Alvaro Barreal’s curving goal off the set piece in the 50th minute would prove enough for FC Cincinnati, who beat the Fire 1-0 for a much needed three points.
Robert Beric appeared to have tied the game in stoppage time with a header goal, but VAR waived it off after the referee ruled he was offsides. It’s the second time in as many home games that such a situation has occurred, with Wyatt Omsberg’s tying goal late disallowed for the same reason.
Nonetheless, the club now has a 1-7-1 record, and their four points are the lowest in all of MLS. Upset fans booed as the whistle went off, with some even chanting “Wicky Out” in reference to second year manager Raphael Wicky.
“I know how this works. I’ve played 15 years and I’m a coach a long time so I know how it works. We don’t have results. I don’t have arguments. I am responsible for this so there is not much I can say to that,” said Wicky of the crowd’s reaction. “I just say thanks to the fans who always come to the game, who came to Columbus, and who come here supporting the team.
“But it’s not about me. It’s about the team.”
Goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth was quick to defend the manager and put the responsibility on the players to turn it around. He did what he could to keep the Fire in the game with his career-high 11 saves, including nine in the first half.
“I would say the frustration levels are high, of course. We’re 1-7. If there are happy guys in the locker room, they shouldn’t be here. They are in the wrong place. So I think a little bit of it is good,” said Shuttleworth was asked about the feelings in the locker room. “That said, we have to remain positive. When we come in, we go over the stuff we are not doing well and when we get to a game day we have to approach it with positivity and try to turn the corner.”
An opportunity was there on Wednesday night but they couldn’t get it, and now they sit at the bottom of the MLS looking up. At least the team has three more home games in a row to once again attempt to get things righted, starting with Saturday’s game against Philadelphia at 7 PM on WGN.