On the back of a captivating 3-3 draw at the Philadelphia Union last weekend, an early lapse in concentration was all it took to see the Fire slip to their 13th loss of the 2015 campaign.
A nightmare start, which saw the visiting Colorado Rapids execute and convert a sublime counter attack, sunk the Men in Red, 1-0, in front of 18,317 at Toyota Park Saturday night.
Combination play from Kevin Doyle and Gabriel Torres down the left flank was capped off by Dillon Serna, who finished with ease at the back post to give Pablo Mastroeni's side their first win on their travels against an Eastern Conference team this season, while the Fire were left to rue another poor and lethargic beginning to the match that confined them to the bottom of the standings.
"Seems like every team that plays against us has not as many chances as we create or get and seems to score goals, so we’ve looked at it, we working on it, we talk about it the whole time," Fire head coach Frank Yallop said. "I’ve been in this game a long time and sometimes you keep trying to put your finger on it and you can’t kind of figure it out."
Yallop trotted out four changes with rookie Matt Polster replacing Lovel Palmer at right back, and Matt Watson and Harry Shipp standing in for Razvan Cocis and Jason Johnson, respectively. Meanwhile, David Accam, who looked on from the bench at PPL Park, made his return to the side and succeeded Shaun Maloney, whose transfer to English Championship side Hull City is expected to be completed early next week.
Seeking to make amends for the early blip, it was Patrick Nyarko and Joevin Jones who took the game by the scruff of the neck in the 13th minute, combining down the left side. Jones' cross skipped to the back post to Accam, whose scuffed effort was palmed aside by Rapids 'keeper Clint Irwin, a common theme as the visitors rode their luck throughout the night on the heels of a defensive, yet solid performance.
A lively Accam - making his return to the lineup after being rested the previous match - produced a string of threatening chances on the night, but failed to muster enough to beat an alert Irwin.
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The Fire - despite holding a commanding edge in possession (68 percent) and total shots (20) on the night - couldn't break through a staunch Rapids back four, which similarly stood up to the task with conviction in the second stanza.
Second-half substitute Gilberto nearly found an equalizer for the hosts two minutes into stoppage time, but his effort chimed the woodwork, calling an end to another frustrating night in Bridgeview.
"Tonight was a big game for us that if we could’ve won this one it would’ve helped us and obviously not winning it," Yallop added. "Again it’s about us, we got to keep going and keep battling on through. It’s nice to see some of our guys on the field; Gilberto and I think Kennedy [Igboananike] looked sharp tonight, but obviously we just didn’t get that goal we needed.”
Next up for the Men in Red is the first of 10 remaining fixtures against Eastern Conference opponents, which sees Jesse Marsch's New York Red Bulls march into Toyota Park on Wednesday night.
Chicago Fire Starting XI (subs)
(4-4-1-1): Sean Johnson; Matt Polster, Eric Gehrig, Jeff Larentowicz (C), Joevin Jones; Patrick Nyarko (Gilberto, 63'), Matt Watson (Jason Johnson, 69'), Michael Stephens, David Accam; Harry Shipp (Mike Magee, 85'); Kennedy Igboananike.