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Same old, same old for the Chicago Fire in loss to Atlanta United

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Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) scores a goal against Chicago Fire goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm (27) during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Dale Zanine- USA Today Sports)

By Ernesto Hernandez

He’s having the worst day of his life . . . over, and over again.”

That is the tagline of the 1993 classic, Groundhog Day, in which Phil Collins, played by Bill Murray, is stuck in a time loop and reliving the same day over and over again.

The plot of the film can also be used to describe the Chicago Fire whenever they play on the road.

Why?

Because it is the same old issues that arise whenever the team plays outside of SeatGeek Stadium. In their latest 2-0 loss against Atlanta United, those issues were the lack of finishing. If one wanted to sum up the game, that is how it would be summed up. The Fire created a couple of good scoring opportunities in the first-half but failed to convert. On the other side, Atlanta also created a few but the difference was Josef Martinez was able to convert two of those opportunities.

It’s certainly how Veljko Paunovic would sum up the game.

In his post-match comments, he said, “There is not a lot to say. It has been a good game for us. I think we dominated. We created a lot of chances. We didn’t convert. It’s the same, basically what we said in the last two games. We, unfortunately, conceded two goals that we could have done better defensively.”

Whether or not one agrees that the Fire dominated is up for debate but the rest is in line with what has happened on the road all season. Chicago plays well for the first half-hour or so, create opportunities, fail to convert, and the opponent then winds up opening the score and taking the initiative.

Aside from the game at NYCFC, the Fire have competed in all their other away games and should have come away with better results. The opener in L.A., the D.C. United game, Montreal, and even the one at San Jose, the Fire played well and lapses in concentration or failing to put the game away came back to haunt them.

The latest loss against Atlanta serves to worsen an already dismal road record. The Fire are yet to win a game on the road this season and have not won as the visiting team since 2017. They now sit in 9th place, two places out of a playoff spot, and with more games played than some of the teams sitting in front of them.

MLS action is not put on hold as Chicago travel to St. Louis to take on the aptly named, Saint Louis FC, in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on June 11. Their next league game is at home on June 22 against Real Salt Lake.

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