The Fire wasted an opportunity to pick up three points on the road against a direct Eastern Conference playoff rival. Thanks to a questionable straight red card shown to Rafael Ramos in the 26th minute and another straight red to Antonio Nocerino in the 66th, Chicago played with an advantage for much of the game but couldn't capitalize or break down Orlando's packed-in defense.
The match was played without Dax McCarty and his presumed replacement Juninho because of international duty and a new child respectively, but referee Ted Unkel handed the visitors a big advantage with the red card decision against Ramos. This should have been a chance for Chicago to prove themselves against one of the East's top teams in the early going, while playing without arguably their most important player but the big test was essentially postponed thirty minutes in.
A draw on the road coming into this match may have been a perfectly acceptable outcome but the circumstances of the game make this result unpalatable for a team that has now raised expectations. Orlando's ability to stop Chicago from creating chances despite the man advantage for more than forty-one minutes and a two-man advantage for the final 24-plus minutes of the game, in fact raises more questions about just how good this Fire team is.
Have Jason Kreis and Orlando City provided a blue-print for defending a Fire team that has controlled the ball and finished impressively, particularly at home in the last five unbeaten matches? How much of the Fire's struggles to effectively beak down Orlando City was due to the shuffling caused by McCarty's absence? Does this effort show that the Fire is still missing that true "playmaker" capable of breaking down an opponent deploying the tactics that Orlando resorted to while short-handed?
The Fire hit the crossbar twice in second half stoppage time and almost came away with all three points but those near misses were the best chances of the game. The previous win against FC Dallas came against a quality opponent who was playing short-handed and propelled Chicago to an impressive record but didn't answer a question about just how good they were capable of being. This match didn't do anything to address that and raised a few more.
GK Matt Lampson (5.5) - Decent in picking up another clean sheet but there were some shaky moments in communication and questionable decisions. Larin almost caught him out of position in the 33rd.
D Brandon Vincent (5.5) - Active but not as accurate in his crosses as he has been in recent matches.
D Joao Meira (5.5) - Went on a foul spree in the first half while trying to defend Larin and there was little for the entire back line to worry about in the second half as Orlando was in full bunker mode for most of it.
D Johan Kappelhof (5.5) - Had a little freedom to get forward later in the game and tried to get involved to push offensively. Orlando completed 78% of their passes despite being shorthanded for much of the game.
D Drew Conner (6) - Improved in his forward runs and provided some good service. His cross attempt to de Leeuw in the 34th was knocked away for a corner kick in what was the Fire's best chance of the first half. His cross to de Leeuw in the 56th set up another chance. Drew a foul in a dangerous spot in the 62nd.
M Matt Polster (5) - Several bad passes led to give-aways and didn't have much cohesion with Schweinsteiger or much influence in moving the offense forward. Hit the cross bar with an open look in the 92nd minute.
M Bastian Schweinsteiger (5.5) - Impressive pass outlet pass to Nikolic in the 16th aside, he didn't have many answers or much help in breaking down Orlando's pressure or sit-back tactics. Chicago completed 89% of their passes but much of it came in non-threatening circumstances.
M David Accam (5) - Created a chance in first half stoppage time in getting by several defenders but his shot was off target. Got by several players again in the 51st but wasted the chance with a bad cross. One well struck shot in the 2oth was right at Bendik.
M Michael de Leeuw (6) - An exceptional work rate, and the captain's armband, kept de Leeuw involved as the Fire's most active player but he was missed by teammates on numerous far post runs. Conner almost hit him on one of those in the 34th. Saved a chance in the 47th with pure hustle and also came back to defend on the rare Orlando ventures forward. His pass to an open Polster set up the shot that hit the crossbar. Easily the Fire's man of the match in this one.
M Luis Solignac (5) - Mostly ineffective in combination and seemed to be lost while playing up a man for a good portion of the first half.
F Nemanja Nikolic (5) - Couldn't get much on a shot after a pass from Accam in the 20th. Had two shots stopped by Bendik in the first half stoppage time. Didn't have much success against Spector and the Orlando defense in the second half
M Arturo Alvarez (5) - Replaced Solignac in the 55th and did try to get involved right away. A couple of long distance prayer attempts were just that, and not even close to goal.
M Djordje Mihailovic (5.5) - Subbed in for Conner in the 71st. A tackle on Kaka in the 81st won the ball pack and he was involved in the play that led to Polster's chance in stoppage time.
F David Arshakyan (5) - Came on for Accam in the 76th. Shown a yellow card after losing the ball and grabbing the opposing player from behind by the shoulder. HIs shot glanced off the crossbar in the 94th after taking a pass from de Leeuw to close the game.