Fire still in search of elusive goal
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media March 9, 2013 11:18PM
Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis makes an acrobatic save Saturday night at Toyota Park. | Tasos Katopodis~Getty Images
Updated: April 11, 2013 7:13AM
When the Fire signed striker Sherjill MacDonald last July, the hope was that he’d be the consistent goal-scorer the team has been searching for since the 2003 season.
In the home opener Saturday against the New England Revolution at Toyota Park, MacDonald was benched at halftime in a disappointing 1-0 loss.
The Fire has failed to score after two games. It lost the season opener 4-0 to the Los Angeles Galaxy.
“Of course, I was disappointed,” MacDonald said. “But what can you do? As a player, I have to listen to the coach, and that’s what I did.
“It’s difficult, but once the confidence comes, it’ll be OK. We have to look forward. Today was not a good game, but maybe next game we’ll score.”
MacDonald blew two quality chances before being benched.
In the third minute, he had an opportunity to score from 12 yards but one-timed a perfect pass from right back Steven Kinney over the crossbar.
Then in the 31st minute, MacDonald had an even better chance from six yards out after an end-line pass from midfielder Patrick Nyarko, but he barely grazed the ball, allowing Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis to corral it easily.
But, most important, MacDonald failed to hold the ball with his back to the goal.
The Fire uses a withdrawn striker and plays MacDonald up top, making ball control his most vital task. When he can’t control the ball, the Fire has more difficulty mounting an attack.
“We needed him more; we needed him to hold the ball better,” coach Frank Klopas said. “At times when we tried to find him, his ability to hold the ball was late to his movement.”
Revs striker Jerry Bengtson scored the only goal in the 62nd minute when he headed a Kelyn Rowe chip into the box from five yards out.
The Fire back line appeared to allow Bengtson to run unmarked and was caught ball-watching as Rowe struck the ball.
The Fire limited the Revolution’s chances after the goal, but it lost Chris Rolfe to cramps three minutes after the Revs took the lead.
Klopas had to burn his third and last substitute with 25 minutes left, so he couldn’t use a fresh sub late in the game when New England had lost some of its energy.
Klopas had used his second substitution in the 58th minute, putting rookie Yazid Atouba in the game.
“[The goal] was just a broken-down play,” center back Austin Berry said. “We cleared the first ball and just didn’t stick to marks on the second ball in. It’s a shame because we defended well for the majority of the game.”