ATLANTA – One of the things that kept the club out of the playoffs in the 2020 season was their inability to pick up wins away from Soldier Field.
In 11 road games – two before the pandemic and nine after – Chicago Fire FC failed to win a game, losing five of them and tying six others. It offset a decent home record and had them on the outline looking in at the Major League Soccer postseason.
Saturday gave the Fire a chance to start over with their first game away from home of the 2021 season. It wasn’t the easiest of tasks considering Raphael Wicky’s group was visiting Atlanta United FC, home to one of the best supporter groups in the league.
On top of that, local regulations allowed up to 50 percent of Mercedes Benz Stadium’s soccer capacity of 42,500 into what was the club’s home opener.
It was a challenge the Fire were up to for 65 minutes, but in the end, the hosts has more.
After tying the game in the opening minute of the second half, the Fire allowed a pair of goals in the second half in a 3-1 loss to Atlanta United FC at Mercedes Benz Stadium.
The Fire still remain without a win on the road since the final week of the 2019 season in Orlando.
After the hosts got out to a 1-0 lead, Luka Stojanovic got the equalizer in the 46th minute thanks to a cross from Boris Sekulic to even the game. But the Fire had bad luck in the 65th minute, when a long shot into the box hit off Johan Kappelhof and into the net for an own goal to give Atlanta the lead.
Emerson Hyndman would add an insurance score in the 85 minute to put the contest away.
“We know this is a tough opponent and a tough place to play so we knew if you want to come here and make a point or have a win, you’ve got to suffer and not make the easy mistakes. So we knew that coming in here,” said Wicky of the effort. “But yeah, look, when you lose 3-1, you cannot be happy, especially with the way you concede the goals. We keep working.
“We keep working, moving forward and that’s the only thing to do and that’s the only way to go.”