FRISCO, Texas – The road is still a thorn in the Chicago Fire’s side.
Unfortunately for the visitors, they ran into a buzzsaw this go-around in FC Dallas, a team who is unbeaten in their last 16 matches in Frisco, falling 3-1 to mark their seventh straight road loss.
“I think we had a great opportunity in the first half that could have changed the game for sure,” head coach Veljko Paunovic said. “Then [we were] unlucky and had a mistake on the first goal on a classy play by Castillo, and great finishing by [Maxi] Urruti was something that changed the game.”
While neither team necessarily came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, the play Paunovic alluded to changed momentum for the rest of the match. Castillo worked his way through two defenders and executed a Rabona cross into the box, allowing Urruti to connect on a header and put Chicago in a hole they would not be able to climb out of.
The second goal was arguably equally as impressive – a Mauro Diaz strike from 30 yards out that was perfectly placed past the outstretched reach of goalkeeper Matt Lampson. But even though the goals were products of superb talent, Paunovic believes the Fire could have done more to prevent the chances.
“When you come to that point and the goalkeeper has to decide the situation, it’s because we did something before that that wasn’t good,” Paunovic said. “I think there’s always something. Defensively, we were good. We proved we are tough defensively, but today we struggled against a very good team that has played a long time together, a team that is more experienced than us, and knows how to take advantage of quality chances.”
As far as the attacking front goes, Chicago struggled outside of an early opportunity and a late free kick buried by Arturo Alvarez. The team only fired two shots in the first half, one of which was on target.
“We have to get better. We have to improve,” Paunovic said. “Every time we have these types of games, we don’t take advantage, and we don’t convert the opportunities.”
And it’s on the road where Chicago has struggled the most to convert on opportunities.
Paunovic said he believes they’ll continue to build chemistry as the season goes on and has confidence the road woes will start to reverse course. But he isn’t resting on potential alone, knowing they must start to show the growth on the field to avoid sitting in the cellar of the Eastern Conference, which is where they sit now with 17 points this season.
“I think we’re in a good spot from that point of view,” Paunovic said of growing together. “But we have to continue working, continue trusting and believing what we’re doing, then good results will come in the future.”
Scott Sidway is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com.