Fire suffer first loss of season

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Fire entered their game Saturday against Orlando City without four key players, and they played the second half a man down. It all proved to be too much to overcome in a 1-0 loss, their first of the season.

Midfielders Fabian Herbers and Xherdan Shaqiri and defender Miguel Navarro were out with injuries, and captain Rafael Czichos missed his second consecutive game because of health and safety protocols.

Then Homegrown midfielder Brian Gutierrez was shown his second yellow card in the 43rd minute. Ercan Kara scored on a header for his first career MLS goal in the 59th minute. It was the first time the Fire have trailed this season.

“It might have been a difficult call on the second yellow,” Fire coach Ezra Hendrickson said. “But that first yellow is something that he has to learn from, and all the other players have to learn from. That’s a really poor yellow to get, standing in front of the ball, trying to block the free kick like that. That’s inexcusable. So hoping he learns from that because that’s what really did him in.”

Hendrickson liked the effort from the replacements, but he came back to Gutierrez’s ejection.

“I thought they did well,” he said. ”[Jonathan Bornstein], [Jhon] Espinoza, Gutierrez, I thought they all came in and did well. Before that red card, I thought Gutierrez was playing well. I thought he was moving the ball. He’s a young kid. Hopefully, he learns from this. I thought he was having a good game up until then. That really hurt us as a team.”

Orlando (3-2-2, 11 points) outshot the Fire 21-7 and had a 6-2 edge in shots on goal. Gabriel Slonina had five saves for the Fire (2-1-3, nine points). The Fire have allowed only two goals, tied with the Union for the fewest in MLS.

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