CHICAGO – The feeling at the start and the end of this recent stretch at Soldier Field are completely different for Raphael Wicky and the club.
On June 23rd, Chicago Fire FC supporters were booing and even chanting for the manager to be fired after the club lost 1-0 to FC Cincinnati after having their equalizer in stoppage time called back due to an offside VAR review. At that moment, with just four points on the season, the Fire were in last place in all of Major League Soccer.
But fates have turned since then for the club as they’ve found an offense that was missing the first two months of the season and got some much-needed points in their final three matches.
In that stretch, the club went 2-0-1 to pick up seven points, including victories in their final two matches and three goals in each one. After a 3-3 draw with the Philadelphia Union on June 26th, the club shutout Atlanta United FC 3-0 then knocked off Orlando City SC 3-1 on Wednesday evening.
The last of those wins is the best of the season for the Fire, since Orlando sits in second place in the Eastern Conference. After falling behind by a goal in the 34th minute, Boris Sekulic evened the game in stoppage time of the first half with his second goal.
Struggling to find the back of the net all season, Robert Beric got on the board for the first time since the opener against New England with the go-ahead goal in the 72nd minute. Chinonso Offor finished off the effort with a goal in stoppage time for three more points.
“Like we always said, winning gives you the most confidence. I think we have to build from that. We have to keep working and believing in what we do, and we know that we can beat a lot of teams in this league. We know that,” said Wicky after the match. “But it often depends on the little details and on really making this extra step and really working for a teammate and I think that’s going to be the base for these next three, four months.”
At least the Fire can feel better about their standing in the conference as the seven points in the last three games. They’ve moved out of last place in the league and now sit five points out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
By no means is the work done with regular season play continuing till November, but for the first time this season, the Fire have some positive vibes as they head into a ten-day break before their next match against Nashville SC on July 17th.
“Well, yeah, that first game against Philadelphia, really, really strong, physical team. I think that point was very important. Though in that moment, we wanted to win.But in the end, I think it was maybe that turning point, but we will see,” said Sekulic of the stretch. “It’s just seven points. We still have 20, I don’t know how many exactly games, so we are still far from (a) playoff spot.
“So I think we should be happy but calm and we should try to win in the next few games, also.”
They will, with a little momentum on their side thanks to a nice homestand recovery.