Both the Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew come into 2017 looking to turn a page and forget about their respective dismal 2016 campaigns. They squared off on Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium in the season opener on a chilly afternoon and battled to a 1:1 draw. Based on the soccer on display it’s unlikely that either side learned much about whether 2017 will bring more joy than 2016 did, but both teams have a lot of work ahead if they want to be competitive. The Crew controlled play in the first half, while the Fire were the better team in the second. Given the sparse number of shots that found the target the 1:1 result can be considered a fair one.
The Chicago Fire, floundering in last place in MLS’s Eastern Conference, have passed the midpoint of the regular season and basically face must-win situations in almost every match. It really should be too early to think about results in those terms in July, but the hole that the Fire have dug for themselves has become awfully deep, leaving very little margin for error.
In a reversal of the endgame of their last match, the Chicago Fire pulled out an equalizer deep into stoppage time and grabbed a vital point at Columbus. Substitute Jason Johnson headed home Eric Gehrig’s cross with almost the last touch of the match and the Fire nabbed a 2:2 draw. Columbus had taken a commanding 2:0 lead, thanks to a pair of goals from ace sniper Kei Kamara. The Crew failed to put this one to bed, unsuccessfully bunkering their team for the final quarter hour.
Friendly Banter Friday
Let me start out by thanking the MLS scheduling “computer” for assigning such wonderful start times for our regional rivalry with the Columbus Crew! A 7pm start on a Friday on Memorial Weekend is sure to fill the Crew’s stadium. The Crew returns on a Wednesday night in mid-July and the Fire returns to Columbus on the following Sunday evening. Such wonderful start times for traveling fans of both clubs.
Recent “Derby” talk in the lead up to the NY Red Bulls and NYC FC game got me wondering about the match up between the Fire and the Crew. Columbus is our closest rival, but it seems like MLS HQ does not think it’s worthy of publicizing. Then again, there’s a positive out of that, MLS won’t latch on to our fans and reimage them into fans of a team which only exists on paper:
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