This one was always going to be a warm-up for Tuesday's US Open Cup Semifinal in New England. Any result here would have been a bonus with heavy squad rotation planned in preparation for the important upcoming contest. Veljko Paunovic didn't go with a full reserve side but the result was what most expected. Another loss on the road.
Jonathan Campbell, Brandon Vincent, and curiously David Accam and Michael de Leeuw were the only clear first choice players to start the match. The biggest victory of the night is probably that both Accam and de Leeuw escaped 45 uneventful minutes without injury or indicent. The rest of the match wasn't surprising. Real Salt Lake controlled possession, cruised to a 2-0 lead, and beat a team that they should have beaten despite playing their third game in seven days.
The Fire's second half was better than the first, but whatever took place in this doesn't really matter. The 2016 season boils down to one game against an old foe on Tuesday night. A win would send Chicago to the US Open Cup Final with at least a chance at salvaging something out of another lost year. This game meant little. It was another road loss, the 36th consecutive winless start away from home (38 if you count 2 USOC road defeats) and the Fire have little to no chance of qualifying for a playoff spot, even in a subpar Eastern Conference.
The Fire are on an historic run of futility away from home. The are five losses away from equalling the mark for the longest road winless streak by any professional North American sports team in the modern era of NBA, NHL, NFL, MLS, and MLB. A loss on Tuesday moves them into second place on that list all by themselves and the club is faced with over two months of preseason play for 2017.
Tuesday is a massive opportunity for keeping some hope and good will alive.
Pro North American Sports Teams Longest Road Winless Streaks
Team League Games Years
Sacramento Kings NBA 43 1990-92
Ottawa Senators NHL 38 1992-93
Chicago Fire MLS 38 2014-present
Detroit Lions NFL 26 2007-2010
Philadelphia Athletics MLB 22 1943
GK Matt Lampson (5) - Credited with four saves and two of them were of some quality. Lampson appeared to be partially screened but he was still flat footed and slow to react to Olmes Gacia's low speed trickler that rolled into the net for the first RSL goal in the 14th minute.
D Michael Harrington (4) - Can be seen ball watching on the first and third RSL goals. Beaten consistently for most of the night. Did provide a threat in the 79th with a good move to get free and force Rimando into a spectacular save.
D Eric Gehrig (4) - An unnecessary shoulder block into Martinez's upper body in the 27th resulted in a clear penalty. Second half was better.
D Jonathan Campbell (5) - The best of the Fire's starting defenders on the night with an average performance.
D Brandon Vincent (4.5) - Not a good match up for him against Martinez and Mulholland. Completed 17 of 30 passess.
M Arturo Alvarez (4.5) - Scored the Fire's only goal in the 64th minute to make the game closer than it should have been. The midfield was invisible on both sides of the ball in the first half.
M Nick LaBrocca (5) - Contributed a fantastic service into Alvarez for the goal in the 64th. Was denied by Rimando on two point-blank chances in second half stoppage time. Set up Alvarez for a good chance in the 53rd. Completed 40 of 48 passes, which is isn't bad but provided little to no help defensively.
M Michael Stephens (4.5) - Like LaBrocca, his passing numbers are acceptable at 53 of 62, but RSL had acres of space and plenty of time to do whatever they wanted in front of the Fire back line in the first half. Better in the second half once some changes were made but still provided nothing in terms of help or attackers in the first 45 minutes.
M David Accam (5) - Didn't get much of an opportunity to see the ball in a good attacking position throughout his 45 minutes of play. Completed of 6 of 10 pass attempts. His only shot attempt in the 40th minute was just wide.
F Michael de Leeuw (5) - Got no help from midfield in helping him find the ball. Completed 6 of 8 passes.
F Luis Solignac (5) - Started well early but the signs of having just one team training session under his belt started to show. Somehow ended up playing behind de Leeuw for aa good portion of their time together. Completed 15 of 20 passes although some of those were glaring misses. Missing in the second half other than a long shot attempt in the 62nd.
M Razvan Cocis (5) - Subbed in for de Leeuw to start the second half which led to a formation change. 13 of 15 passes competed and helped improve the central midfield play in the last 45 minutes. Did give up space to Morales on his goal in the 64th.
F John Goossens (5) - Subbed in for Accam to start the second half. Helped create some half chances immediately and completed 21 of 23 passes overall. Provided the pass to LaBrocca in the 92nd minute which led to his chances.
D Johan Kappelhof (5) - Replaced Alvarez in the 68th minute of this game for some reason. Had some issues with Martinez in the 78th but otherwise provided a decent 22-plus minutes.