The Fire are nothing if not competitive

It's no secret that the Chicago Fire have had a poor season. Even after Saturday's 3-1 win against New England, the Fire sit in last in Major League Soccer and are still four points behind the nearest team above them in the standings.

However, that two-goal win got me thinking. How many times have the Fire won a game by more than a goal this season? For that matter how many times have they lost by more than a goal? The answer to both is not often.

Turns out the Fire are 3-4 in games decided by more than a goal. That means 25 of their 32 matches have been decided by one goal or ended in a tie. For a team so clearly stuck in last place that surprised me so I decided to see how often the rest of the league plays in these games decided by more than a goal.

Here's each MLS team's record in such games (I checked and double-checked, but there could still be mistakes considering I merely counted these by looking at each team's results):

Team Record
RBNY 10-3
Dallas 10-6
SKC 5-3
LA 8-5
Vancouver 6-4
Seattle 7-5
Montreal 5-4
NYCFC 6-5
San Jose 5-5
Toronto 8-8
New England 7-8
Real Salt Lake 5-6
Fire 3-4
Houston 6-8
Portland 4-6
Columbus 4-6
Philly 4-6
DC 3-5
Orlando 6-10
Colorado 2-7

There's a few things to take away from these numbers. Unsurprisingly the Fire are towards the bottom of the league in terms of wins by multiple goals. Only Colorado, who is just above the Fire in the standings, has fewer. DC is a bit weird to have only three multiple goal wins, but that team has succeeded seemingly with smoke and mirrors anyway so I suppose that makes sense.

What I found more surprising is that the Fire have only four multiple goal defeats, which is tied for third fewest in the league. Only the New York Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City have fewer (by no coincidence those teams also have the fewest losses of any kind in the league).

That adds up to the fact that the Fire have played the fewest games decided by multiple games in the whole league. In other words, recently-fired Fire coach Frank Yallop succeeded in setting his team up to be difficult to beat. Last season's league-record 18 ties were further proof of that. The problem with that strategy is the Fire couldn't get enough wins to take advantage of being "difficult to defeat."

For example, before Saturday's win against New England the Fire had been on a five-match losing streak. All five matches were one-goal losses.

I'm not sure this is something you can draw great conclusions from this other than statistical proof of Yallop's conservative tactics when he was in charge of the Fire, but it's still an oddity worth pointing out.

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