In a familiar story, the Chicago Fire gave up a late goal that denied a win at home.
The Fire had come back from a halftime deficit against the Columbus Crew to take a lead into the final 15 minutes, but couldn’t hold on in a 2-2 draw.
After going down a goal in the first half, an own goal and Michael de Leeuw’s fifth goal of the season gave the Fire a 2-1 lead against their rivals from Ohio. Adam Jahn’s second goal of the match tied things up in the 80th minute.
A frustrated Veljko Paunovic spoke of how disappointed he was that the team couldn't win a game for the fans who have "suffered too much."
“I think we all know where we are," the Fire coach said. "I think we could see improvements in our team and things that we still have to get better. I think that has been the whole year the same process, the same things to do to improve. Still a long way to go.”
Jahn’s first goal came on a counter. Justin Meram hit a perfect through ball to Adam Jahn and Jahn beat Sean Johnson to make it 1-0 in the 13th minute.
That was the only shot on target for either team in the first half.
David Arshakyan replaced John Goossens at halftime. Goossens was one of the most active Fire players in the first half, but the tactical shift seemed to help the Fire's attack. Columbus coach Gregg Berhalter even credited Arshakyan for causing problems for Columbus.
The Fire (6-16-10, 28 points) were able to tie things up in the 53rd minute when Michael Parkhurst deflected a ball into his own net after the Fire tried to find David Arshakyan, who subbed on at halftime, in the box.
Four minutes later Arturo Alvarez cut inside on a defender from the right wing and centered a ball to Michael de Leeuw, who was open in front and able to easily score with his first touch.
“Obviously Arshakyan brings a different dimension to the game," Alvarez said. "He’s a big guy, a big presence on the field. I think in the first half we had some looks as well, but unfortunately they didn’t go our way. It was a good tactical shape. We made sure that we took advantage of his size and it opened up a little bit of space for the guys on the wings.”
Jahn evened things up with a hard-hit volley soon after a corner kick to make it 2-2 and set up an exciting final 10 minutes. Columbus (8-12-12, 36 points) needed a win to stay alive in the playoff race and sent everybody forward, including goalkeeper Steve Clark for the final two minutes, but could not find a goal. The Fire had a number of chances on a counter, but could not convert either.
“I think obviously with two home games left in the season, to not get a win the first one out of the two to end the season is a little disappointing," midfielder Matt Polster said. "Just to give our fans something and to kind of finish the season off strong,"
Columbus is eliminated from playoff contention a year after hosting MLS Cup.
The Fire close out the home schedule Sunday against New England.