Playing the league-leaders on the road with some key starters not making the trip in the heat of mid-July in Dallas was not a good formula for the Chicago Fire.
The Fire were thumped at FC Dallas 3-1 on Saturday to extend the team’s road losing streak to seven matches.
Fire forward Kennedy Igboananike actually had the first good chance of the match. Matt Polster was able to spring him free down the right wing and Igboananike had an open shot in the box, but his effort was hit straight at Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez.
After that, FC Dallas (12-6-4, 40 points) took over. The Fire (4-9-5, 17 points) didn’t get another shot on target in the first half and Maxi Urruti and Mauro Diaz scored before the first 45 minutes concluded.
Fabian Castillo weaved his way through two Fire defenders and then hit a rabona cross to Urruti, who headed in the goal in the 23rd minute. Then Diaz doubled the lead with a highlight-reel shot from outside the box that hit the inside of the far post and went in.
Arturo Alvarez, who came on as a second half sub, gave the Fire some consolation by curling in a free kick in the 91st minute. However, any last ditch comeback efforts were quickly snuffed out when Dallas' Mauro Rosales scored 66 seconds later. Castillo picked up his second assist with a centering pass from the left to an open Rosales in the box.
The two-goal margin is the Fire's second loss by more than a goal this season.
Coach Veljko Paunovic continued to rotate the Fire squad during the current busy stretch in the schedule with five matches in 15 days. After Rodrigo Ramos, Johan Kappelhof, Kennedy Igboananike and John Goossens didn't start in the 1-0 win against Sporting Kansas City, Paunovic rested more key players on Saturday.
With the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal coming up on Wednesday, Paunovic elected not to have regular starters Sean Johnson, Jonathan Campbell and David Accam make the trip to Dallas in the middle of summer.
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Considering that the Fire have the fewest points in Major League Soccer and Dallas has the most, not to mention that the Fire haven’t won on the road in two years, Dallas was already a heavy favorite in this match. The Fire’s squad rotation with the U.S. Open Cup coming up is a pragmatic move from Paunovic, even if it meant Saturday’s match wasn’t much of a contest.
That U.S. Open Cup match against the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers is up next for the Fire, with a 7:30 p.m. scheduled start at Toyota Park.