The Fire played on a field meant for soccer. Their performance showed they’re not meant for the playoffs.
During Sunday’s 2-0 loss to New York City FC in front of an announced crowd of 11,720, the Fire struggled to do much against an NYCFC team that lost Wednesday at home and entered on a four-game winless streak. Sunday’s result, which was moved to SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview because of expected playing conditions at Soldier Field, was reminiscent of many the Fire have turned in at the venue, when the team would come up short in crucial situations.
With the loss, the Fire have dropped two straight, and it became clear early that Sunday would be another Bridgeview disappointment for the club.
NYCFC took a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute when the Fire gave Gabriel Pereira time and space outside the 18-yard box, and he beat Gabriel Slonina with a shot into the top right corner.
The Fire also got a significant scare later in the 24th when Kacper Przybylko attempted a header in front of the NYCFC goal and also made contact with defender Malte Amundsen. Przybylko stayed down for several minutes and was bloodied, but returned in the 31st with a bandage around his head.
Przybylko was replaced by Jhon Duran in the 50th minute, but by then the Fire had conceded again. Normally reliable captain Rafael Czichos gave the ball away in front of the Fire net, and Santiago Rodriguez slotted it past Slonina for a 46th-minute goal and 2-0 NYCFC lead.
With Gaston Gimenez (right thigh) out, the Fire’s thin depth was going to be tested if the Fire suffered more injuries after sporting director Georg Heitz made no additions before the transfer window closed. That came back to bite the Fire when Carlos Teran – playing for the first time since hurting his hamstring July 30 – appeared to injure himself and was removed in the 68th minute.
Because coach Ezra Hendrickson had already subbed out center back option Mauricio Pineda, the Fire switched to a 3-5-2 after Teran departed. Pineda started in midfield next to Federico Navarro.