It wasn't the most exciting match, but the Chicago Fire earned a draw for the second straight match.
The Fire played to a 0-0 draw with the visiting Columbus Crew on Saturday. Neither team created many chances with just five shots on goal combined and just one of those shots coming from the Fire.
The biggest news of the game came in the lineups before the match when it was announced that David Accam had a knee sprain and was not available. Accam, who has two goals and an assist in two matches, has been the Fire's best player this season. His absence meant the Fire's attack was significantly shorthanded and it showed.
“David is very important for us," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. "Obviously his quality in counterattack, but also his speed and also his talent is very important for us.
“We didn’t change. We played the same system. The only thing is we played against a very, very good team. This is what we have to understand. Also I believe we were very focused on our defensive game plan, which we did very well.”
It was the third straight game the Fire were playing without a regular starter, with John Goossens missing the opener and Gilberto sitting out in Orlando. Accam was recently called into Ghana's national team, but will also not play in Ghana's two upcoming qualifiers.
Without Accam sparking the attack, the Fire (0-1-2) struggled to create chances and to keep possession of the ball. Meanwhile, the Fire's five-man defense was able to hold off the Crew (0-2-1).
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Goossens also picked up an injury on Saturday, being subbed out at halftime with a hamstring injury, according to Paunovic. Once Paunovic subbed on Nick LaBrocca, who made his club debut, for Kennedy Igboananike in the 60th minute the Fire were better in possession, but still neither team could score.
"This is the defensive performance that we need," Paunovic said. "I think we needed more clarity, more possession and that’s what we missed. In order to get opportunities sometimes you have to counterattack, but you also have to have good possession of the ball and that’s what we lacked today.”
The Fire's defense has gone from poor in the first match, giving up four goals to New York City FC, to just one allowed in Orlando while playing most of the match a man down, to now a shutout. The team is putting the positive spin on the defensive side despite the lack of offense.
“I think it was very important (to get a shutout)," defender Jonathan Campbell said. "Coming from the first game then to the next game, only giving up one goal, and for this one zero. I think it’s big improvement for us and something we can build off of.”
The Fire return to action against Philadelphia on April 2, also in Toyota Park, after taking a weekend off for the international window.