BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — The Chicago Fire took a lead into the final 10 minutes against the New England Revolution, but goalkeeper Richard Sanchez dropped a ball that led to the tying goal and cost his team the win. The Fire settled for a 1-1 draw.
Here are three things that stood out from the match:
Richard Sanchez doesn’t stake claim to starting goalkeeper job
Richard Sanchez appeared to lose the Fire’s starting goalkeeper position to Patrick McLain, but McLain strained his hamstring against San Jose on June 2.
Sanchez started the Fire’s U.S. Open Cup win at Columbus on Wednesday, but this was his first MLS start since May 20. He made some nice saves, but ultimately his dropped ball led to Teal Bunbury’s tying goal in the 82nd minute.
“The goal we conceded, it was tough to swallow,” coach Veljko Paunović said after the game. “Everyone was just a little bit frustrated in that moment, but we still tried to get back and win the game.”
Sanchez’s five saves will be overshadowed by the one mistake. With McLain still likely out for a few weeks, Sanchez will probably have more chances to prove himself.
Jun 9, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Atlanta United defender Jeff Larentowicz (18) heads the ball while defended by New York City forward Jesus Medina (19) during the second half at Yankee Stadium. The game ended in a 1-1 tie. Mandatory Credit: Chris Bergmann-USA TODAY Sports
Nemanja Nikolic leaves with injury
Nemanja Nikolic is obviously huge to what the Fire do. He won the league’s scoring title last season and leads the team with six goals this year.
When he left in the 20th minute due to injury, it was a big blow to the Fire’s attack. Alan Gordon, his replacement, has been on a roll lately, but he’s no Nikolic.
Nikolic had a cut just above his left eye. For now, Paunović said the Fire don’t know the extent of the injury, but did warn of a possible concussion. Nikolic will go through concussion protocol while he is evaluated.
Big missed opportunity for the Fire
The Fire entered Saturday’s match two points below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference. Orlando City, which is in sixth place, lost earlier Saturday to Vancouver.
That means a Fire win would have moved the Fire into a playoff spot. On top of that, New England is in fifth place, five points ahead of the Fire. Failing to win was a missed opportunity to gain three points on the two teams just above the Fire in the standings.
As it stands, the Fire are one point behind Orlando and tied with Philadelphia.
That said, the performance could be considered encouraging. The Fire defended well for the most part and created some dangerous chances. The Revolution did pile on 18 shots, but both teams had chances throughout the match.
“We had to fight until the end and that’s what we did today,” Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said. “That was good to see. The whole team, like everyone, tried to work defensively, offensively. We have to keep on going, doing this in 90 minutes and not for 70 minutes.”