The points were shared at Soldier Field on Saturday night as the Chicago Fire were held to a 1-1 draw against the New York Red Bulls.

A horrific contest for the neutral to watch, a Kei Kamara header 10 minutes before the break seemed like it was going to be enough to secure the win for Chicago. However, they blew it like they always do, and Corey Burke’s goal at the death stole a point for the away side.

It was ugly, and the result was a fair one considering how the two teams played.

Story of the match

The first chance of the contest came after just four minutes, and it came via a defensive mishap. A deflected clearance fell right to Tom Barlow in the box, but he took too much time on the ball, and his eventual shot was blocked by an onrushing Chris Brady.

Chicago looked like they were going to hit on the counter, as a long ball in behind was launched towards a streaking Chris Mueller. He wasn’t faster than Dylan Nealis, though, who sprinted back to deal with the danger.

The Red Bulls had another opportunity early on thanks to a defensive miscue. Carlos Terán didn’t read an aerial ball properly, which allowed Tom Barlow to slip Elias Manoel in behind. He went for a first-time strike, but his powerful effort rattled off the crossbar.

Things kicked into gear at the half hour mark. New York could’ve had a penalty when Manoel went down in the area, but nothing was given after a VAR review. Chicago then went up the other side of the field and opened the scoring through Kei Kamara, who headed home a lovely cross from Arnaud Souquet.

The referee was the focus once again soon after. Omir Fernandez went on an incredible run, and it looked like he had been taken out by Rafael Czichos, who was already on a yellow. The official pulled out the yellow card, but he showed it to Frenandez for diving instead.

Chicago could’ve doubled their advantage moments into the second half. Chris Mueller was through on goal, but instead of taking a shot with his weaker left foot, he tried to cut back in on his right. He was dispossessed as a result.

The pace of play started to slow, and it ended up grinding to a near halt. There were some potential openings, but nothing really substantial happened for a lengthy stretch of time. 

Just as it seemed like things were destined to end 1-0, the Red Bulls grabbed an equalizer with moments to go. A corner was whipped into the area, and Cory Burke rose highest to head home from just a few yards out.

That proved to be the final highlight of the action as the two sides shared the points.

Takeaways

Shoutout Hendrickson, who made the big call to bench Shaqiri. There was concern that he was going to force Shaqiri into the number #10 spot, but he made the decision to trust Gutiérrez, and it was the right one. (It turns out that Shaqiri was actually injured again, which is why he wasn't an option to start. Disregard my praise.)

It was ironic that Brian Gutiérrez ended up having his worst game in the position so far this season, though. He just wasn’t at it tonight. He didn’t get on the ball much, and he was a pretty invisible figure during his time on the pitch. It’s nothing to really worry about, but it was a shame to see him be so unproductive.

The crowd at Soldier Field developed beef with John Tolkin at some stage, booing him everytime he got on the ball. I’m not sure what happened, but it added to the atmosphere. 

Speaking of the atmosphere, the Fire stated that the attendance was about 11,000, but it didn’t look like it from up high. Maybe people that bought tickets bailed on the match. Maybe the club just flat out lied about the figure. Either way it wasn’t the biggest crowd.

It was so windy that the ball started rolling when Chicago was trying to take a free-kick. Good time that. 

I understand that Cory Burke wasn’t in great form going into this contest, but you had to start him on this night purely because of his previous record against the Fire. Don’t go against narrative. 

Miguel Navarro is not good enough. 

This was not pretty. So much of the contest went by with nothing happening except fouls and mistakes. It showcased just how flawed both sides are, and they each need to learn from whatever took place tonight.

Hendrickson got the starting lineup right, but he got his subs wrong. Jonathan Dean and Alonso Aceves ended the match as the two wingers even though both are fullbacks by nature. It was too defensive, and it meant that Chicago couldn’t get a second goal to seal the victory, which ultimately cost them. 

Man of match - Cory Burke

Of course it was Cory Burke.

The man who simply loves to score against the Chicago Fire decided to do it again. Forced to settle for a cameo off the bench, the forward didn’t actually do much on the night. However, he stepped up when it mattered most.

Burke beat everyone to a corner, including the goalkeeper, to head home from just a few yards out. It was a simple goal, but it showed how much of a presence he is in the air.

It saved a point for New York, and it only added to the lore surrounding him and his favorite rivals.

Key quotes

Chicago Fire head coach Ezra Hendrickson“Well, I mean, it's the same thing that has happened three times now: late in the game, it's a corner kick and we decide we're not going to mark our man."

"I wish I could explain it to you, but I have no explanation for it. It's ridiculous now."

"Quite frankly, I'm fed up with it. But I have to take responsibility because at the end of the day, I'm the head coach, and it's my team and we’re letting these points slip away.”

"It's early in the season, yes, but these points are crucial points. And it's not like we're out of these games. We're in these games. We put ourselves in position to win these games. But that commitment at the end has to be there."

"Well, the conversation was just basically, Shaq is still banged up a little bit. He's not fully healthy yet and maybe playing 60 minutes on turf last week wasn't the best thing after coming back after five, six weeks. He had a little setback so we knew he couldn't play 45 even tonight. So, starting him wasn't, there was no chance to start him tonight."

Chicago Fire captain Rafael Czichos“I saw another corner kick that we couldn't defend, exactly like last weekend. And we were talking a lot about it last week, that we have to defend our set pieces better. And we were not able to do it again. And this is why we're here now, with only one point and not three.”

“I think we have to think about our whole mindset when we lead a game. I don’t think it’s right to defend after and not to work for the second or third goal. I think if we would have kept playing our game, it would have been better at the end.” 

Chicago Fire striker Kei Kamara - “We didn't need the coach to tell us how mad he was for the result. And I think players, together, you know, showed that we deserve more. We wanted more. So, yes, he can come in and tell us really how he felt, but I'm sure a lot of us have our hands down and saying ‘Hey, that's just not good enough.'”

“I mean, we've been building from the first game over and over and over and trying to maximize the points. Again, we can't just bury ourselves all the way down. We got to look forward to the positives that we're continuing to get. It's not easy to go this many games unbeaten at home. So we got to take that positive from it. But you know, definitely the things that we're doing that's good, we got to balance on that. But the things that's not working, we all got to look at ourselves and help ourselves so we can get full points when it comes to it.”

 

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