For once, the Chicago Fire were the team to score a late goal and change the result.
Unfortunately for the Fire, they scored that late goal after they were already trailing at home. Razvan Cocis’ 78th minute header gave the Fire a 2-2 draw with visiting Orlando on Sunday.
John Goossens gave the Fire an early spark, but Orlando’s big players came up with big plays in the first half. Goossens pinged a shot in off the post from outside the box for his second goal of the season.
However, for the third game in a row the Fire (4-11-7, 19 points) gave up a goal soon after scoring one. Three minutes later Cyle Larin held off Jonathan Campbell to get a touch on a bouncing ball in the box and tie the game for Orlando (5-6-12, 27 points).
"I think these are the things that we have to improve again," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. "We don’t have to be afraid when we have a good result in our hands. We have to manage better.
The Fire opened the match with a three-man backline consisting of Johan Kappelhof, Jonathan Campbell and Eric Gehrig. Orlando’s counter to that was to have Kaka play out wide left where he saw a lot of the ball and with time and space. The Fire adjusted, moving Kappelhof to right back and shifting Brandon Vincent to a more defensive position at left back in a flat back four.
However, that didn’t stop Orlando or Kaka. The Brazilian gave the Lions the lead in the 32nd minute on a rebound after a Larin header hit the post.
“Obviously we had a lot of issues on the right side with Kaka," Paunovic said. "Very good by (Orlando coach) Jason Kreis, very smart moving him on the sideline. I think also we struggled there. Once we did our adjustments, switching to 4-2-3-1 and putting Kappelhof, our maybe most experienced guy in our defense, against Kaka. We were able to stop him. When I say stop him, I know what I am saying because it’s very difficult to stop Kaka. We all know who is Kaka, but I think he did a great job."
Cocis saved the Fire from a defeat by heading in a Brandon Vincent cross following a short corner in what was a wide open game. The Fire held an 8-7 edge in shots on target.
"I think at least this time it was a good and better reaction in the second half," Cocis said. "We stepped up higher in the field, which was great, and it feels good when I see that we can be there. We can be higher up the field, dominate the opponent and stay there. As you saw even after we scored the second goal, we could have scored the third one.
The Fire extended their home unbeaten run to 10 matches.
A win could have brought the Fire closer to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, which Orlando currently is tied for, but instead the Fire remain eight points back. Sunday’s match was an opportunity to gain three points on the team they were chasing. Instead, it’s another missed opportunity.
The Fire’s next game is at Montreal on Saturday.