In the last 5 days Columbus has picked up their first road win of the season and their first penalty kick opportunity of the season. The latter was also the fastest PK given in MLS history. Sure, it was a soft call by referee Chris Penso but in a second consecutive year where everything that can wrong always does, the Fire continued to slide further away from even a dubious sixth place finish.
The Fire's eleventh loss of the season is also one more than they had in a miserable campaign last year. They finished 6-10-18 in 2014. This year 5-11-3 just doesn't earn much benefit of doubt.
The penalty call wasn't even the most egregious error made by the notoriously inconsistent Penso however. Two questionable yellow cards shown to Jason Johnson left Chicago a man down for the last 40 minutes of the match. "I thought the game was an even game up until the red card, and then it's very tough, which I didn't think it was a red card," said Frank Yallop after the match. "It's tough to lose, but I thought it was a poor game from us call-wise and in the end it costs you."
Even with Shaun Maloney potentially returning in the coming days and Joevin Jones rejoining the team after Trinidad & Tobago was eliminated from the Gold Cup, the Fire will be hard pressed to make something out of this year. Perhaps all that remains for salvaging the season is the US Open Cup. Chicago will host Orlando City on Wednesday night in what could be a last gasp at ensuring that 2015 isn't another wasted season.
GK Sean Johnson (5) - After a spectacular outing against Columbus last Wednesday night, he wasn't as sharp in this one. Could have done better to corral the cross that led to the Crew's second goal. It's hard to pin it on him but there is no sliver of room for error or hesitation with this group.
D Matt Polster (4.5) - Moved to right back although Gehrig had been the usual choice at right back over Lovel Palmer. Lost his footing on Kamara's goal thus the lost mark and the free header.
D Adailton (4.5) - Kamara stepped in front of him for the lead goal. Silly hand ball late in the first half earned him a yellow card.
D Eric Gehrig (4.5) - The entire back line was flat footed as yet another second ball after a set piece was sent into the box resulting in yet another goal.
D Patrick Doody (5) - A good service into Nyarko in the 23rd minuted was wasted. It should have led to a goal.
M David Accam (6) - His free kick goal was deflected into the net and he created several other opportunities. May have run out of gas later in the second half. Free kick service as also good.
M Razvan Cocis (5) - The Fire midfield wasn't completely overrun like they were on Wednesday night and the red card made it difficult to continue the improved play. Had a very good chance in the 60th but his volley from a corner kick was right at Clark although it was well taken.
M Matt Watson (4.5) - A good look in the 25th was wasted with an errant shot. Another attempt in the 39th wasn't close.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Either he or Cocis were whistled for an offside call in the 11th on what could have been a goal. Wasted a glorious 1v1 chance with Clark when he softly tapped Doody's 23rd minute cross right at the 'keeper. The air went out of the offense when he and Accam were subbed out. The move was apparently made with the USOC match in mind.
F Harry Shipp (4.5) - Finally got another chance to play more centrally in an underneath role and didn't do much with it.
F Jason Johnson (4.5) - The two yellow card calls were dubious at best but he gave Penso a reason to call the second for embellishment. Drew the foul that led to Accam's free kick goal.
M Guly do Prado (5) - Entered the match in the 70th for Nyarko as the white flag was raised. Had a goal disallowed in the 86th as a result of a foul according to Penso.
F Kennedy Igboananike (4.5) - Subbed in for Accam in the 70th. Twenty minutes of nothing showed why a Designated Player was on the bench in favor of a second-year reserve. Igboananike wasn't happy about being taken out of the last match. He has no one to blame but himself really.
M Collin Fernandez (5) - The Homegrown attacker made his MLS debut after replacing Shipp in the 86th.
- There is no word yet on the status of league talks with Didier Drogba. Montreal has joined the fray and the eerie sense of last year's Jermaine Jones debacle looms to further add insult to injury.
- Mike Magee did not travel after picking up a knee injury during training.
- Lovel Palmer did not travel due to coach's decision. With the Fire shorthanded, Yallop elected instead to take rookie Kingsley Bryce to Columbus. This bears watching.
- Shaun Maloney may be available on Wednesday against Orlando City although he hasn't begun training in full yet.