By IVES GALARCEP
After waiting eight weeks for their first win of the season, the Chicago Fire had to feel like that precious first victory was within sight as they held a 2-0 lead on Real Salt Lake 71 minutes into their match on Saturday night.
That sight quickly turned into a nightmare though, as three unanswered goals from Real Salt Lake left the Fire wondering just what went wrong.
Alvaro Saborio and Joao Plata combined for all three goals, include a 90th-minute equalizer from Saborio and 94th-minute winner from Plata to lead RSL past the Fire at Toyota Park on Saturday night.
Plata sparked the comeback in the 72nd minute when he collected a Javier Morales pass and quickly placed a low shot past Sean Johnson to make the score 2-1.
Plata had a hand in the equalizer as well, serving up a cross that Saborio bundled home in the 90th minute to tie things up and leave the Fire wobbling.
Plata knocked the Fire over for good just four minutes later when he raced onto a Saborio cross at the back post, volleying home the winner to silence a stunned crowd at Toyota Park and left the Fire struggling for answers on a night when they started so brightly.
The Fire played with real energy to start the match, keeping a slow-starting RSL on the back-foot through the first 20 minutes. Mike Magee opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when he pounced on a rebounded Nick Rimando save of a long-range Harrison Shipp shot.
Chicago made it 2-0 in the 30th minute when Juan Luis Anangono headed home a Greg Cochrane.
RSL woke up after that Anangono goal and started pushing pressure on the Fire defense, but Sean Johnson made a handful of big saves to keep the Fire up 2-0.
Ultimately the Fire couldn’t deal with the quick and slippery Plata, or the strong and efficient Saborio.
The win improved RSL to 0-4-5 and dropped the Fire to 0-2-6. RSL remains the only unbeaten team in the league, while the Fire is one of two teams in MLS without a win (Portland being the other, though leading D.C. United at the moment).
Here are the match highlights: