After atoning for a 0-3 start to the 2015 MLS regular season with three consecutive home wins, the Chicago Fire faltered on the road for the third time this season and slipped to its fourth loss on Sunday, leaving them hovering above the red line by a whisker in the Eastern Conference standings.
Their trendsetting winless record against Western Conference opponents, made worse with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Sporting Kansas City, is gaining unwanted attention. The lack of incisiveness and ruthlessness in front of goal has been duly noted as of late, with all six of the Fire's goals supplied by all but the forward position in Kennedy Igboananike (two shots on target in 221 minutes), Quincy Amarikwa (five shots on target in 446 minutes) and Guly do Prado (one shot on target in 192 minutes) through the first seven games.
"We just didn’t quite execute in the final third," said head coach Frank Yallop during his weekly media conference call on Tuesday. "We’ve just got to figure out our play away from home being goal dangerous and being clinical because we had chances. We’re not quite there yet and we didn’t execute when we should have. That was the story of the game."
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As Yallop prepares to alleviate the issue ahead of Real Salt Lake's visit to Toyota Park on Saturday, matching the intensity of their counterparts, in addition to being bereft of conviction in the attacking third, has also been a bit of a soft underbelly for the Men in Red while scoring just one goal and conceding five in three away matches.
"We weren’t sharp in the first half, I thought," Yallop said in his post-match press conference. "The second half we started to get our wind and get into the game. I said, Kansas City always starts very strong at home and they get at you. Once the level dropped down to par level, I thought we played well. I thought we matched them."
On Tuesday, he expanded on the slow start against Sporting KC, a resemblance of the Fire's prior performances at the LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes in March.
“It’s a weird one because we talk about it, about coming out quickly, that they’re going to come out at us,” Yallop said. “We didn’t look confident (at Sporting KC) in the first 20-30 minutes. That could have cost us the game -- (Dom) Dwyer had a free header and should've scored. They could have been two-nil up at halftime."
With Salt Lake's visit in the offing, Yallop is already taking initiative to resolve the team's road setbacks, citing a refined strategy on the coaching staff's behalf as the precursor of better things to come ahead of the Fire's trip to New York City FC on May 15.
“I’m going to talk next week about maybe just changing something in training or maybe the days off to get us into the mode of a good start in an away game,” he said. “What I like about my technical staff is we’re forever trying to fix it through video, through sleeping patterns, and different things like this. We’ve got a pretty good team that can win games (on the road), so (starting slowly) was a frustration on Sunday.”
Stay with Comcast SportsNet for complete coverage ahead of the Fire's home contest against Real Salt Lake, slated for a 2 p.m. kickoff on Saturday at Toyota Park.