Bridgeview, Illinois (April 7, 2018) — Columbus Crew SC had every opportunity to salvage points against their rivals from Chicago. But a combination of bad luck and a key goalkeeping blunder prevented it from happening.
The Black and Gold dropped a 1-0 decision to the Chicago Fire in front of 11,023 at Toyota Park. It marks the club’s second loss in a row after starting the 2018 season unbeaten in their first four. Nemanja Nikolic’s 27th-minute goal turned out to be the difference.
Iron Unkind in Columbus Crew SC Loss to Chicago Fire
That lone tally came as a result of some questionable decision making on the part of Crew SC goalkeeper Zack Steffen. After receiving a back pass from center back Jonathan Mensah, Steffen distributed a ball short intended for Wil Trapp. But Nikolic intercepted it, dribbled to Steffen’s right and slotted it home.
Despite Steffen’s blunder, the chance to remain unbeaten on the road this year was there for the taking. That’s readily apparent considering Crew SC finished the game with a 20-6 advantage in total shots and a 2-1 edge in shots on goal. Both Pedro Santos and Federico Higuain had legit scoring opportunities in the first half. Santos’ fourth-minute effort went wide left while a 44th-minute attempt by Higuain forced a save out of Fire goalkeeper Richard Sanchez.
But the second 45 truly laid bare the Black and Goal’s snakebitten predicament in this game. It all began in the 72nd minute. After Gyasi Zardes received a perfectly floated ball from Wil Trapp, he then blasted it by Sanchez only for it to hit the crossbar.
— Columbus Crew SC (@ColumbusCrewSC) April 8, 2018
Lady luck wasn’t done spurning Columbus. Less than five minutes after Zardes’ attempt to break the deadlock, 57th-minute substitute Mohammed Abu had a chance of his own. But his curling shot from outside the box crashed into the left post, ending the second-year Crew SC player’s chance at notching his first career goal for the club.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 8, 2018
With the win, Chicago continues to dominate its longtime MLS rival at home. Dating back to July 29, 2006, Columbus has just one win in its last 14 meetings with the Fire in Bridgeview. It came on July 15, 2015, when Crew SC triumphed by a score of 1-0.
Columbus is on the road once more next week as they head east to face D.C. United. The game is taking place at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, MD with D.C.’s new venue, Audi Field, not slated to open until the summer. Proceedings next Saturday get underway at 7 PM ET.
Photo courtesy: Columbus Crew SC Communications