Eight games through the 2015 MLS regular season, the Chicago Fire already have five losses to their name and have failed to score from the run of play since a first-ever goal from David Accam against New York City FC on April 24 lifted the Men in Red to a third win on the trot.
Since then, a dispiriting 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City in a hostile environment followed by Saturday's home defeat to Real Salt Lake without the suspended Ghanaian has casted even more doubt over the team's dearth in goal production from open play, which, discounting Jeff Larentowicz's penalty kick, has stretched to a span of 250 minutes. What's more, the Fire were strapped for vim and vigor, an unabating narrative that still overhangs Frank Yallop's side.
"I thought we had chances, and limited them to not much, but I thought our energy wasn't there like we've had the last three home games," Yallop told reporters in his post-match press conference. "I told them at halftime that we have to pick it up, and felt like the effort was there in the end, but it was kind of too late. We didn't really make that final pass again, and not just the final pass, but the calmness to finish too. They maybe had three chances, we probably had similar, four or five chances, but they had two goals and we don't get any.
"We just have to figure out as a group, and I'm the leader of that, of getting a way of grinding results and getting back into games, and not giving up goals when you're kind of on the front foot, I think we did that today. We're pushing a little bit and then giving up the goal, and we did the same in the second goal."
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Over the course of 90 minutes against Jeff Cassar's delegation, the Men in Red fired 14 shots at Nick Rimando's goal, three of which hit the target and two that called for top-notch saves from the U.S. international to complement a plucky performance from the visitors and deny any chance of a late Fire equalizer by day's end.
Larentowicz, whose 88th minute goal sent him to the top of the Fire's scoring chart, reaffirmed Yallop's sentiments in the locker room following the match while brushing aside feelings of a sapped morale within the team.
"The belief is there, the result and the product isn't," he said. "I think that at times, we're a little naive in thinking that we're better than we are. But we're playing better, together as a group, this week and last week, there are lessons we have to learn to move forward.
"At times we're a little naive, I think that there's times when we feel like we're on top of the game, we take our foot off the pedal, and we don't score that goal. You have to reward yourself when you're on top of the game, and we haven't done that."
In the face of adversity amid a season laden with moving parts, Yallop still finds comfort in knowing the Fire have leadership aplenty — beginning with the club's captain — ahead of two impending away fixtures at NYCFC and Columbus Crew SC.
"We've got Jeff and he's been around the block a lot," Yallop said of Larentowicz. "He's very positive, he'll come out of this game with positive thoughts and we don't get too high when you win and too low when you lose. People like Jeff will realize that it was one of those games were we couldn't just get it together, we lost, you got to pick yourself and get ready for the next two games, which are away from home and that's always tough in our league. Funny things happen, we'll have two games away and maybe get a result like Salt Lake did to us."