After losing their first two games of the season, the Columbus Crew picked up their first point of the new MLS season, scorelessly drawing the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.
Lots Of Early Chances For Columbus
Chicago put the pressure on Columbus early, as they forced six corners from the Crew in the opening 10 minutes. Playing in a 3-5-2, Chicago controlled a lot of the play through the midfield and down the wings early and forced Columbus into some turnovers when the Fire were not on the attack.
"This is the formation we believe is best for our team," said Fire manager Veljko Paunović when asked about putting three defenders at the back. "We've only conceded two goals since we started playing in this formation."
After a rough opening start, the Crew picked up the play for the next 15 minutes. The first chance of the game came to Columbus when Federico Higuain's shot from outside the box fell right into the hands of goalie Matt Lampson. Ethan Finlay found some space a few minutes later and shot under Lampson, but the shot went wide of the goal.
Columbus once again nearly scored when Justin Meram had his shot blocked and then the volley from Higuain went high over the bar. It was a solid start for a Crew team looking for its first points of the season.
After the flurry from Columbus, the game seemed to settle down, becoming much more controlled from both teams. Neither side took many risks in the first half, as the game looked early on like it would be a draw. There were no more chances from either team before the half time interval and through 45 minutes, it was knotted at 0-0.
Given their troubles on defense, going with three at the back was a risk for Chicago, but the Fire were able to hold off the Crew for much of the half without giving up many chances. It was a defensive struggle, both teams with a rough time getting chances. The Fire especially had trouble, as the only shot they had was a shot a blocked attempt from Gilberto. Columbus had four shots, but only one target, while Chicago had none on goal in the opening 45.
More Of The Same Scoreless Action In Second Half
Columbus started off the second half with a good chance, when Meram was able to shift inside the box; he had his shot blocked. Will Trapp later had a strike go just over the bar and Columbus continued to dominate the chances in this match.
After a defending mishap cost Chicago a goal in their opening match against NYCFC, the Fire nearly made the same mistake on Saturday. After a corner was taken short, Harrison Afful's cross came in and a Fire defender headed it, but towards goal. The ball went over Lampson and off the bar as Chicago survived what would have been a very painful goal to give up.
Finlay had a great chance when his shot from outside the box had to be pushed away by Lampson. Columbus created another opportunity in the 73rd minute off a counterattack, as good buildup led to a Higuain shot that flew just over the bar.
Chicago finally got a shot on goal around the hour mark, when Gilberto had a simple shot saved by Steven Clark. It was one of the few times that the Fire tested Clark on the night. Although Chicago did a solid job at the back in this game, the offense failed to make a huge impact as the Fire were missing David Accam tonight.
"David is very important for us," said Paunović. When asked about Accam's injury, Paunovic was very optimistic about his winger's health, saying he believes his player "will be ready for the next game against Philly."
Chicago had a good penalty shout in the 82nd minute when Rodrigo Ramos was played in by sub Nick LeBrocca and shoved off the ball. No penalty was given on that play, much to the displeasure of the 12,605 home fans at Toyota Park.
The teams didn't have any major chances, as the result held scoreless to hand a point to both sides.