Through 45 minutes it appeared the Chicago Fire were going to cruise to a first road win of 2017.
However, the LA Galaxy scored on a pair of corner kicks in the second half to rally for a 2-2 draw at the StubHub Center on Saturday.
David Accam was the creator of both of the Fire’s goals. He weaved into the box in the 11th minute and set up Nemanja Nikolic open in the box. Nikolic’s first touch got away from him, but he was able to win the race to the loose ball and was tripped by Jelle Van Damme for a penalty kick. Accam converted from the penalty to give the Fire (3-3-3, 12 points) its first road lead of the year.
Four minutes later Accam got an assist to go with his goal when he hit Nikolic in stride on a counterattack. Nikolic scored on his first touch for his sixth goal of the season.
LA (2-5-2, 8 points) didn’t have a shot on goal in the first half and hadn’t scored in its previous two matches, but was able to get back in the match from corner kicks.
Daniel Steres’ glancing header following a corner kick in the 56th minute got LA on the board. Nine minutes later Giovani Dos Santos tied the match by sliding in to finish a Dave Romney flick header following a corner kick. Those were LA’s only two shots on target, meaning the Galaxy didn’t put a shot on target from open play.
The Fire nearly went back ahead with a Luis Solignac header later in the half, but Brian Rowe was able to get a hand on it and push it onto the crossbar. Nikolic also put the ball in the net in the 94th minute, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Coach Veljko Paunovic made two changes in the starting lineup. Both goalkeeper Jorge Bava and right back Michael Harrington were benched for the first time this season. Matt Lampson, who made 11 starts last season, started in goal and was not credited with a save. Drew Conner played at right back in his first career start. Conner was replaced by Jonathan Campbell in the 75th minute.
The Fire finished the three-game road trip with one point. Next Saturday the Fire return home to play the Seattle Sounders.
MLS announced on Tuesday that the Chicago Fire’s first game back after the season was suspended due to COVID-19 has been postponed.
The Fire were supposed to play Nashville SC on Wednesday in their opening Group A match of the MLS is Back tournament. But since arriving in Orlando for the tournament, five Nashville players tested positive for COVID-19 and four others received inclusive results, requiring more testing. As a result, MLS is now evaluating Nashville’s participation in the tournament.
The Fire will now return to play on July 14 against Inter Miami CF.
The Fire also announced that the Drive-In Matchday event that was scheduled for Wednesday’s game has been rescheduled for their July 19 game against New York City FC. Fans who registered for that event will have the opportunity to sign-up again for the new date.
This is the second Chicago pro sports match altered as leagues try to return to play. The Chicago Red Stars also had a game cancelled in late June due to Orlando Pride players testing positive for COVID-19.
As MLB, the NHL and the NBA gear up to return it remains to be seen how they will react in a similar situation.
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MLS soccer is coming back this summer.
The league announced a plan to have all 26 MLS clubs resume play on July 8 with a league-wide “MLS is Back Tournament.”
The games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World, without fans in the stands.
Here’s how it will work:
Clubs can arrive in Orlando to begin training on June 24. Then a group stage will begin July 8 followed by a knockout stage, starting July 25.
There will be six groups, three for each the Western and Eastern Conferences. The group stage draw will occur on June 11 at 2:30 p.m. CT.
Each team will play three group stage matches, and the results from those games will count in the 2020 MLS regular season standings.
Then the top two teams from each group, plus the four best third-place finishers will advance to the knockout stage. That stage starts with a round-of-16, followed by quarterfinals, semifinals and then the championship game. The championship game will be played on August 11.
In case of a tie at the end of regulation in the knockout stage, games will proceed directly to a penalty kick shootout.
The winner of the tournament will earn a berth in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League.
At the conclusion of the tournament, MLS will resume its regular season followed by the MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Cup.
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