The playoff chances for the Chicago Fire (7-9-16, 37 points) appear to be all but over after a 2-1 loss to FC Dallas (14-11-7, 49 points) on Wednesday at Toyota Park. With the defeat, the Fire also failed to capture the Brimstone Cup for the 10th consecutive season against FC Dallas.
After winning five of their last eight contests, the Fire were defeated soundly thanks to an impressive defensive effort by FC Dallas. Dominic Oduoro, who leads the club with 12 goals this season was held to no shot attempts in this match.
Oduro wasn’t the only player unable to get into a consistent rhythm. The entire club was held to a lackluster offensive effort by FC Dallas’ defense throughout the match.
“We were flat from the beginning, we weren’t sharp,” said interim head coach Frank Klopas. “We were just one step behind everything. Give credit to Dallas. They made it difficult for us. But we pushed the game late and we got something going. In the end, we gave up two soft goals that hurt us. We’re disappointed. Not only to lose but to lose at home. Now our chances are very slim for the playoffs.”
The Fire were held scoreless in the first half and didn’t get their first goal until the 85th minute. FC Dallas however, were able to rebound sharply after Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson made two solid saves in the first half.
After Johnson’s saves, FC Dallas regrouped to put forth a more focused offense and the reward paid off in the 41st minute. Defender Jackson Gonclaves who was stopped by Johnson in the 24th minute received a throw-in pass and fired a shot past a diving Johnson to give FC Dallas a 1-0 lead before halftime.
It didn’t take long for FC Dallas to increase their lead after halftime as Danny Cruz scored on a bicycle kick that got past Johnson in the 52nd minute.
“On the first goal, I could have done better,” Johnson said. “I’m my toughest critic and I hold myself to a high standard. On the second goal, it was just unfortunate the ball got loose in the box and he was able to hit it home.”
With the loss, the Fire hopes of making the postseason took a nearly-fatal blow. The Fire have two matches remaining and need to win both contests to keep their slim chances alive. The Fire will need either the Houston Dynamo or New York Red Bulls to lose their remaining contests and defeat the D.C. United on Saturday to remain hopeful.
Oduro who was held without a goal against FC Dallas, credited their defense t holiding him with a score for 90 minutes.
“It was really difficult for me to get behind the defense,” Oduro said. “They just dropped back the whole time, so we had to change tactics in the second half. I had to go play on the right and I think I was able to get to a few more balls on the right.”
As the Fire will face D.C. United this Saturday with their season on the line, the Fire will be without Cory Gibbs and Dan Gargan who both received yellow cards against FC Dallas. The rest of the season will hinge on their contest and so will their playoff hopes.
“We’re not mathematically out of it right now, but I don’t think we helped our chances of making the playoffs at this point either,” Oduro said.