Early two-goal lead doesn’t stand up for Chicago Fire FC against MLS-leading Columbus

Chicago Fire FC

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – SEPTEMBER 12: Jonathan Bornstein #3 of Chicago Fire and Emmanuel Boateng #20 of the Columbus Crew vie for the ball at Solider Field on September 12, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO – The weather might have been a bit dreary, but the scenario at hand for Chicago Fire FC early in their match on Saturday was quite bright.

Struggling a bit in their restart to the regular season, Raphael Wicky’s team jumped on the best team in MLS at Soldier Field and grabbed a 2-0 lead against Columbus Crew SC in the opening 15 minutes. It had the looks of a breakthrough victory for the still developing club that had won just twice in 2020.

But the Crew are the top team for a reason in 2020, and they had a response for the the Fire in the final minutes.

Fatai Alashe and Gyasi Zardes tallied goals for Columbus in the second half snag the point in a 2-2 draw. It denies the Fire what would have been their best victory of the season as they go to 2-6-3 on the season, two points out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

“When you’re 2-0 up, and I think even before the 2-0, we had one or two really good chances. We’re playing against the leader, a really good team, a made team, a team you always see every week and they know what they’re doing and they’re very good in the game and you concede in minute 88 after having, again, two or three very big chances, two half-chances or chances, it hurts,” said head coach Raphael Wicky of the draw. “It feels like a loss. But again, if you look at it rationally, yes, there are a lot of positives in there.”

Most of that came early, when the Fire had their second fast start in three games at Soldier Field. Djordje Mihailovic notched a goal in the 11th minute as he took a great feed in front from Robert Beric for the score. Mihailovic would leave the match later with an ankle injury, though Wicky said after the game the severity of it is unknown.

Then he would then score three minutes later after taking a cross from Fabian Herbers as the team built a two-goal advantage.

It was similar to what the Fire did in their first Soldier Field game back on August 25th, which helped them to a 3-0 win over FC Cincinnati. It didn’t quite go the same this time as Alashe scored in the 68th minute to cut the deficit to one.

Zardes, who its second in the MLS in scoring, would then bring things to even as he got a deflected ball in the box and beat Bobby Shuttleworth with a shot to the left corner of the net.

“I mean, it’s disappointing. We’re disappointed. We can feel it in the atmosphere of the locker room. We are not happy. I think we had the lead of 2-0, we had the game under control and then I don’t know, we just don’t have this luck or I don’t know what is happening in these last couple of games,” said Beric. “We cannot manage to win a game. I think we just need a little push or a little luck, or a little something just to begin winning. To begin coming into positive results.

“So for sure we are not happy, this is a loss for us.”

One that looked like it would be a great win for most of a dreary afternoon on Saturday.

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