Of the Chicago Fire’s now four-game losing streak on the road, Saturday’s loss was probably the most expected.
How it happened is what will disappoint the Fire.
Joey Calistri had equalized in the 81st minute and the Fire were a handful of minutes away from getting a road draw in tough circumstances, but Marco Pappa scored against his former team in the 89th minute off a big deflection to give the host Colorado Rapids a 2-1 victory.
Pappa took a curling shot with his left foot and Fire defender Jonathan Campbell stuck his foot out to block the shot. Instead, the ball changed direction, leaving Sean Johnson no chance in goal, and went into the net.
The Fire (2-6-5, 11 points) were playing in high altitude just three days after playing 120 minutes in the U.S. Open Cup and entered with a winless record in five road matches. Meanwhile, the Rapids (9-2-4, 31 points) have the best record in Major League Soccer and entered with a 6-0-1 record at home.
The Rapids were missing a few key players in Jermaine Jones (playing for the U.S. in the Copa America Centenario), Shkelzen Gashi (playing for Albania in Euro 2016) and Bobby Burling (injury), but still had enough to get the win on Saturday. The Fire were without midfielder Matt Polster, who suffered a concussion in the U.S. Open Cup match.
After a dull first half in which the Fire were unable to get a shot on goal and the Rapids had just two, Kevin Doyle was able to breakthrough in the 57th minute. Joao Meira was dispossessed after a short goal kick from Sean Johnson. Doyle took advantage with a shot on goal, that went under Sean Johnson’s arm.
The Fire didn’t look threatening in attack for most of the match, but were able to get level through Calistri’s first professional goal. David Accam sent in a cross from the left, which Rodrigo Ramos headed to Calistri in the box. The Northwestern product controlled the ball and scored to put the Fire in position for a quality road draw.
Pappa’s late goal ended those hopes.
Three of the players in the starting lineup, Sean Johnson, Michael Harrington and Joao Meira, didn’t play in Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup match against Indy Eleven. Four players, Khaly Thiam, David Accam, Kennedy Igboananike and Jonathan Campbell, played all 120 minutes in that match and those four played all 90 minutes.
The Fire return to action Wednesday at the Philadelphia Union.