Weather heats up but the Chicago Fire offense remains cold in draw versus NYCFC

New York City FC held the Chicago Fire to a 1-1 on Saturday, May 25 at SeatGeek Stadium. (Chicago Fire Soccer Club)

By Ernesto Hernandez

The Chicago Fire were held to a 1-1 draw against New York City FC, ending the Fire’s three-game winning streak, at home, in the process. CJ Sapong opened the score for the home side before NYCFC’s Alexandru Mitrita equalized prior to halftime. Sapong’s goal was the 1000th regular-season goal in club history.

Veljko Paunovic made a few surprising tweaks to his line-up following the loss to San Jose the week prior. CJ Sapong started up top in place of Nemanja Nikolic, Raheem Edwards returned and played as a left-back and newcomer Kenneth Kronholm made his Fire debut in goal in place of David Ousted.

Despite these changes, the Fire offense once again stumbled and failed to convert a number of chances created in the first half. They were also unable to hold the lead once again. It’s become the team’s calling card.

At home, Chicago comes out of the game strong and nicks a goal. But when the whistle blows for the second-half, that intensity from the first 45 minutes drops and either through a lack of concentration or communication, the opposing team equalizes.

While that wasn’t entirely the case this time, tip your hat to Mitrita on the goal, the Fire had no answers in the second half and drop two points at home.

It’s clearly evident that this team misses Nico Gaitan. They are a completely different team when he’s on the pitch and they have lacked that energy or creativity since the Argentine suffered an injury against Minnesota United a few weeks back. The club still have not given a timetable for his return but Paunovic is going to have to come up with an answer if this team wants any shot at making the playoffs.

On the bright side, the aforementioned Raheem Edwards made his return after missing more than a month with injury. His return provides the team with another option at left-back or further up the wings and provides Paunovic alternatives with regards to the defense. It’s going to take him a while to regain some match fitness but will be a key piece moving forward.

The Fire now head out on a quick, but tough, road schedule that sees them face off against D.C. United and Atlanta United.

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