Montreal’s Impact Players Get the Job Done

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(Photo courtesy USA Today Sports)

Two critical goals from Didier Drogba and Ignacio Piatti in the second half wiped out Kennedy Igboananike’s first-half strike and visiting Montreal came away 2:1 winners at Toyota Park on Saturday. The Fire’s attack spent most of the afternoon sputtering, as the team’s main offensive threats were starved of any service. For a team that seeks to control the tempo of a match by controlling the ball, the Fire continue to fall far short of that standard.

Goalkeeper Matt Lampson was nowhere near his best. He had several shaky moments managing his 18-yard box and his clunker of a clearance in the second half helped Montreal find the equalizer.

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Fire, NYC Fail to Light the Lamp

MLS: Chicago Fire at New York City FC

(Photo courtesy Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports)

The Fire extended their shutout streak to three games on Sunday when they managed a 0:0 draw versus New York City FC at Yankee Stadium. Although it’s nice to pile up the clean sheets, the draw also extended the club’s winless streak in road games, now at 27 games, tying a league record. Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson turned in his best performance in a Fire uniform so far, repelling several dangerous scoring chances by the home team. The Fire have six points from their five matches.

The overall quality of the contest was unimpressive, especially in a chaotic, shambolic first half, during which neither team were able to maintain  possession for long stretches. The number of errant passes that landed at the feet of opponents became too numerous to count. Both teams were able to create something resembling scoring situations in the second half, but off-target shooting dominated.

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Fire Beat the Elements, Union for First Win

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(Photo courtesy Mike DiNovo, USA Today)

The Chicago Fire prevailed in Saturday’s taffy pull versus the Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park on Saturday, with a single tally from Kennedy Igboananike being the ultimate difference. Nearly every type of weather condition was on display, throwing several obstacles in the way of the two teams, who had to navigate through high winds, cold temperatures, snow, sleet and sunshine. The Fire have yet to put flowing football on display, but they have carved out a three-game unbeaten streak after four weeks of play in MLS.

Coach Veljko Paunovic has been preaching about incremental improvements from one match to the next and the results of his work with the players in training has had a positive effect. After the defensive debacle in the home opener, when New York City FC ran rampant through a porous Fire defense, Paunovic sought to improve the defense. The Fire have conceded just one goal in their last three matches, posting back-to-back shutouts. When the Fire sought to take away the strength of the Columbus Crew attack last game, they conceded acres of possession. Paunovic promised that improving possession was next on his to-do list. Against Philadelphia, the Fire won the possession battle for the first time this season, 54% to 46%. Afterwards, Paunovic stated that the finishing has to get better. One wonders what he will have up his sleeve in training this week.

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