By DAN KARELL
Ahead of their mid-week match against Toronto FC, the Chicago Fire knew that a win on the road would catapult them into a playoff position.
Instead, the Fire couldn’t take advantage of their opportunity, settling for a 1-1 draw with TFC at BMO Field on Wednesday despite having 18 shots, with four on target over the course of the game. The Fire were without two of their regulars, Arevalo Rios and Joel Lindpere, due to international duty with their respective countries.
The Fire opened the scoring in the 20th minute when midfielder Dilly Duka chipped a ball into the box towards the run of star forward Mike Magee. Magee nearly got his foot to the ball as it landed in the box, but even though he missed it, the former U.S. youth international did enough to put off TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik, who watched it roll across the line for a goal.
TFC couldn’t have asked though for a better response. Not even two minutes later, Bobby Convey flashed a cross across the face of goal that somehow found it’s way to Robert Earnshaw who calmly waited for an opening and finished easily to tie the score. It was the last contribution for the former Wales international, as he went off injured in the 25th minute.
The hosts were plagued the rest of the match by a failure to execute the final pass, with Justin Braun and Alvaro Rey each having moments with teammates wide opened and not seeing them and playing them into space. On both situations, the TFC players choose to take on the Fire defense alone, all of which ended up away from goal.
Rey had arguably the next best chance for TFC when he struck the underside of the crossbar in the 45th minute, though the Fire were able to clear.
The visitors had one late opportunity to grab all three points when Quincy Amarikwa was put through on goal but his sliding shot was saved well by Bendik, who came off his line quickly, preserving the draw.
The end result leaves the Fire in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 36 points, one point behind the New England Revolution and Houston Dynamo, who are in fifth and sixth place, respectively.
Here are the game highlights: