LAFC was as frigid as the Bridgeview air on Saturday afternoon, falling to the Chicago Fire 3-1 at Toyota Park.
“We were no good today,” Bob Bradley said after the loss. “We’re pretty angry at ourselves.”
As things stand, even if the Portland Timbers win their match, LAFC (14-8-8) will remain third in the Western Conference. Both Portland and LAFC would be level on points, with 50 each, but the expansion side has a superior goal differential. The Timbers would need to win by 13 goals to move into third place.
The former Chicago coach switched from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 for the match against Chicago. Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi flanked Adama Diomande in attack. Finally in the midfield, Benny Feilhaber and Andre Horta replaced Lee Nguyen and Latif Blessing.
LAFC looked composed during the beginning portions of the match. They controlled position and pressured the Fire defense often. Vela, in the 12th minute, did well to turn two defenders before sending the 20-year-old Rossi in behind Chicago’s back line. Stefan Cleveland, though, came off his line, made himself big, and blocked the shot.
Chicago take advantage of their opportunities
The save turned out to be huge, because eight minutes later, Chicago took the lead through a wonder goal from Djordje Mihailovic. Brandon Vincent kept play going by chasing a ball down the left before it went out of bounds. He proceeded to flip the ball back towards the box where Mihalovic was waiting. The Serbian sliced his foot under the cross on the volley to scorch it pass Tyler Miller.
Chicago got their second goal of the day 28 minutes into proceedings. Brandt Bronico was brought down inside the penalty box. Nemanja Nikolic stepped up to the spot and sent Miller the wrong way for his 15th goal of the season.
With time running out in the opening half, Diomande had an opportunity to cut Chicago’s lead in half. The LAFC striker took one bad touch, though, and that was all Cleveland needed to come off his line to thwart the danger.
The Fire hang on for all three points
More than an hour had passed when Chicago found the match clinching goal. They hit LAFC on the counter attack, after the visiting team sent men forward trying to get back into the match. Nikolic flicked a pass into space, which Jonathan Campbell ran onto before playing a square ball. Aleksandar Katai, who had just stepped onto the pitch, poked the ball into the back of the net.
A bit of life came back into the LAFC side 73 minutes in when Rossi finally put his side on the score sheet. The Uruguayan played a short pass to Lee Nguyen. Nguyen flicked the ball into the path of Rossi, who beat Cleveland at the near post.
“It’s a tough loss, because we felt we were in a good position to gain ground,” Nguyen said.
“For me, it looked like we didn’t want it as bad as Chicago did.”
Bradley and company will want to get things back on track next Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. There, they face off with the Colorado Rapids, with kick off scheduled for 6:00 PM.