Chicago Fire FC (3-8-3, 12 points) battled D.C. United (5-7-2, 17 points) to a 2-2 draw at Soldier Field on Wednesday night. With the result, Chicago is unbeaten in its last four home games dating back to June 26.
After an evenly contested start to the first half, the Fire took the lead in the 32nd minute when midfielder Gastón Giménez scored his first career goal for the Club, producing a thumping header from just inside the 18-yard box (WATCH). Defender Boris Sekulić provided the assist, his third of the season.
Chicago doubled its lead in the 61st minute when a beautiful sequence created an opening for defender Miguel Navarro to drive a pass into the box. Played into a dangerous area, Navarro’s cross deflected off defender Andy Najar before finding its way into the back of the net (WATCH).
D.C. would fight back late in the match, scoring twice in the final eight minutes. Midfielder Kevin Paredes cut into the Fire’s lead with a one-time finish in the 82nd minute, before forward Ola Kamara equalized from the penalty spot in the 87th minute.
Fire goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth made four saves on the night including two stops early in the 7th and 8th minute of the match (WATCH - WATCH). Shuttleworth received some help from defender Wyatt Omsberg as they combined to keep the ball out of the net in the 53rd minute (WATCH).
NEXT GAME: Chicago Fire FC will continue the Club’s two-game homestand on Saturday, July 24 against Toronto FC. The match will begin at 7:00 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on WGN-TV, CFFC Live and TUDN 1200 AM. Tickets for the Fire’s game on Saturday are available for purchase here.
- Chicago has scored 11 goals at home since June 26, which is the most in the league during that stretch.
- With the 2-2 result, the Fire is unbeaten in its last seven home games against D.C. United (2-1-4).
- Overall, the Fire’s home record against D.C. United now stands at 12-7-13 since 1998.
- Giménez, who was named Heineken Man of the Match, notched his first goal at the club level since scoring for his former team Vélez Sarsfield on April 27, 2019 in the Copa Superliga.
- Sekulić notched his third assist of the season and his first since April 24. Overall, the defender has tallied five career assists for the Fire since the start of the 2020 season.
- Navarro forced an own goal for the second time this season, previously creating an own goal in the 3-3 draw at home against the Philadelphia Union on June 26.
- Midfielder Stanislav Ivanov made his first appearance for the Fire, playing 15 minutes in tonight’s match. Prior to the start of the season, Ivanov was placed on the Club’s Injured Reserve list on March 23 after receiving arthroscopic surgery in his left knee to repair a medial meniscus tear.
- The Fire were without team captain Francisco Calvo, who is representing Costa Rica in the Concacaf Gold Cup.
- Head coach Raphael Wicky missed tonight’s match due to a health matter concerning a close family member. Assistant coach Frank Klopas led the team for a second straight match in his absence.
Chicago Fire FC 2:2 D.C. United
DC - Najar (Yellow Card) 55’
CHI - Giménez (Yellow Card) 62’
CHI - Medrán (Yellow Card) 65’
DC - Skundrich (Yellow Card) 84’
Chicago Fire FC: GK Shuttleworth, D Omsberg, D Pineda, D Bornstein ©, M Sekulić, M Navarro, M Frankowski (Ivanov 75’), M Medrán, M Giménez (Herbers 74’), F Berić (Offor 74’), F Aliseda (Gutiérrez 84’)
Subs not used: GK G. Slonina, D Espinoza, M Stojanović, F Collier
D.C. United: GK Hamid, D Najar, D Brilliant ©, D Alfaro, M Mora (Paredes 46’), M Moreno, M Nyeman (Skundrich 71’), M Asad (Reyna 46’), M Robertha, M Gressel (Yow 71’), F Kamara (Felipe 90’)
Subs not used: GK Kempin, D Odoi-Atsem, F Bolivar
Stats Summary: CHI / DC
Shots: 9 / 12
Shots on Goal: 2 / 6
Passing Accuracy: 77.8% / 81.2%
Saves: 7 / 2
Corners: 1 / 3
Fouls: 12 / 16
Offsides: 0 / 0
Possession: 51.7% / 48.3%
Referee: Marcos de Oliveira
Assistant Referees: Jose Da Silva, Andrew Bigelow
Fourth Official: John Griggs
VAR: Sorin Stoica, Jeff Muschik
Chicago Fire FC Quotes
Chicago Fire FC Assistant Coach Frank Klopas
Overall thoughts on the match…
“Yeah, look, there are games where you come out of moments like that and you feel, you know, you feel positive when you come back if you're down 2-0, not when you're up. At home, everything was going well, and then, you know, it's the next play, always, in a 2-0 lead.
And I think 2-0, 3-0, really doesn't matter, it's the next play. We had some opportunities to make the next play. I felt I made some subs late in the game and I think that we had an initial push and then we dropped a little bit too deep and we invited too much pressure on ourselves. Then we gave up the two goals. So definitely disappointed, you know, because again, I feel like we dropped some points at home and the way the game ended.”
On if tonight’s result was a missed opportunity to get three points…
“No, I think, look, I'm proud of the guys, at the effort that they put (in). It doesn't change. I think when we're playing at home and you drop points, it's always a missed opportunity because we know the amount of home games that we have in the front end of the season and we have to take advantage of that. And you know, we came into this game, I felt really good with the preparation with the guys after the setback in Nashville, and things were going great.
But you know, you have to play to the end, 90 minutes. So, there’s not much to say. We have to keep our heads up and we have to go back tomorrow and start focusing on Toronto coming in a couple days, and that's all you can do. You know, try to learn from this, and then move forward and obviously plan ahead and have a good game plan, select the right guys on the field and give them the confidence and hopefully go Saturday and get the three points.”
On his mentality having to fill in for Head Coach Raphael Wicky…
“Yeah, like you said, I've been in this situation before, but this doesn't happen in one or two days or three days. For me, it's the preparation that's taken place from when the season started.
Rapha, our head coach, has done an excellent job preparing the team, preparing different scenarios. We know exactly if we change something tactically, it's something that we do on the training pitch and the guys are prepared.
For me to step (into) this role, really, it's very easy. It's very easy in the sense that it's all in the preparation that the head coach has done beforehand. So you know, I've been there. I've done that before. Obviously we miss Rapha being here and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family again.
But the team doesn't really miss a beat because we've been together. I've been together with Rapha now for a year and a half and with this group of guys. It's all in the preparation that you do, and you go, you prepare well, you go through "what if" scenarios, what might occur, and then you go out and you compete and you play.”
On if he has spoken to Raphael Wicky…
“Yeah, I talk to him every day. He just texted me even now after the game. They are watching the game.
Look in moments like this, the most important thing is family. Our thoughts and prayers; again, the game is finished, and we're disappointed, but looking at the bigger picture, nothing can compare. This is a game we all love to do and play, and tomorrow is another day and Saturday is another game.
Look, he's doing as well as he can. It's important that he's there with his family in these moments and things are improving and getting better with his dad, which is a positive, and that's the most important thing. He wishes that he was here, obviously. He texted before and called and wished the guys all the best. So he's with them even though he's not here physically.”
On the decision to play Stanislav Ivanov for 15 minutes…
“That's the thing, after the game I'm like the best analyst in the world; I make the best decisions (laughs). Yeah, going into the game, I thought that Stani has been training now for over a month, a month and a half with the team, and if there's a way to get him, you know, 15, 20 minutes, not stretching more would have been the goal to get it done.
Frankie, coming back since the Euros has been fantastic, no doubt about that. But now you're managing, also, three games in a week. He's traveled a lot, he's played a lot of games. So it's a decision where you feel you bring some fresh legs. You're in control of the game, but that's how quickly things can go. For me, those subs are totally on me, my responsibility. I take that.
But the plan all along for Stani was (at) most, no more than 20 minutes. If the opportunity was there to get minutes, in the end, it's all about doing what's best for the team to win the games.”
Chicago Fire FC Defender Wyatt Omsberg
On the level of frustration within the team after the result…
“It's certainly disappointing. (I) felt like we played a pretty good game. (We) gave ourselves a 2-0 lead and then (with) 10, 15 minutes to go we give up two goals. It’s something that can't happen, so we’re really disappointed.
If there is a positive, it's that we played well for 80 minutes and put ourselves in a position to win and then I think the last part is closing out the game. Certainly frustrated and disappointed with the result.
On having to stay prepared to play different positions along the backline…
“Yeah, I think it's a little bit of a challenge, but at the end of the day it's really the same position. You're kind of doing the same things. You're getting the ball in more or less the same places. On the left side you may be using your left foot a little bit more, but all in all, it's pretty similar.
And I think the guys around you, you know, we have a really solid defensive group and the defensive midfielders and with Bobby in the back, I think we're pretty comfortable with each other. So no matter who is in, I think everyone is comfortable and confident.”
On the back three and how it has benefited the team…
“Yeah, good question. I think I feel like we're more organized defensively with the three at the back and then I think it just gives guys a position to play maybe a little bit more their natural positions.
Then going forward with three at the back, we get our wingers, Boki and Miguel, who have been playing there mostly, do a good job getting forward. And I think offensively, it gives us more chances. I think we're pretty comfortable on both now. Depends on the team we're playing. Depends on what we're doing.
But I think we're comfortable in both and the back three, like you said, has been working pretty well. So I think we've just got to keep improving.”
On the difficulty of dropping points tonight with so many road games at the end of the season…
“Yeah, I mean, in MLS you know how important these home games are. A tie is okay but we need to win that game. I think we have some more home games coming up. We're back at home on Saturday.
But yeah, it's crucial to win games at home but now what this means is that we have to do better on the road as we go forward.”
Chicago Fire FC Midfielder Gastón Giménez
On adjusting to the team’s new formation and tactics…
“Well, yeah, the team changed tactically, but Rapha and the assistant coaches have done a great job explaining everything and made it really clear what the changes were going to be, and so they worked well with us and we were able to adapt quickly, and we had to actually play this way in Orlando last year at the tournament.
So we had already trained in this formation and it made it easier for us to adapt to the tactical changes more quickly.”
On scoring his first MLS goal…
“I'm very happy to score my first goal in MLS. Yes, I was looking for that spot. When I saw Boki, or (Boris) Sekulić, get the ball and aim and get ready to pass it, I was trying to anticipate the defender, and so I was trying to shoot it there, trying to send the ball there.
I'm happy on a personal level for having scored the goal but I'm sad because of the result. It's another game where we should have come out with a victory, and then ten minutes left in the game, we didn't close it out properly.
So it's another thing on which we have to improve. It's another thing we can grow on. But it's over and it's done with, and now we have a couple days to come back and get ready for a rematch here at home.”
On tonight’s result...
“Yeah, that's the way the results go. We know that in football, a difference of two goals is really nothing because you score one goal and you're back in the game, and, well, what happened out there.
So it was tough because we had been playing a great game until that moment. We were at home and we were ahead and doing well and it's something we really shouldn't have let happen. But as I mentioned before, it's over, it happened, and now we have another game coming up. We can't lose, so we have to prepare ourselves to win at home here in a couple days.”