Last week's two-game swing in Florida hurt a little bit more than a normal pair of losses on the road, which happens to almost every team in the league at some point.
The Fire’s struggles away from home are now a bit infamous and unlike any other team in the league. No road wins since Decision Day of 2019. No road wins in the last 19 tries.
Wednesday against Inter Miami CF and Saturday against Orlando City SC yielded no points, despite the fact that it appeared the Fire did more than enough to get at least a point out of each game, and possibly three.
The two games were both very different, but felt similar in terms of the apparent dissonance between the strong performance but vacant result.
The Miami game featured what looked to be a winning formula; The Fire were tough in 1-v-1 battles, punished the opposition for a bad mistake, and utilized set pieces. Scoring two goals on the road against a side that struggled to score themselves should’ve been enough.
Sadly, the Fire were punished for mistakes of their own and came away empty-handed. They were not played off the field or overwhelmed by sheer Miami quality. Yes, that quality shined through in some big moments, but the bulk of the 90 minutes was there to be won.
Orlando was a different plot with the same ending. This was more of a grind, and not littered with goals and clear-cut opportunities. The only noteworthy chances for the Lions were the Van Der Water shot that hit the post and the Benji Michel goal. That’s it. The Fire were sound defensively, covered for one another and put in a physically taxing shift against a tough opponent in a hostile environment in a ton of humidity. It was literally one mistake that cost the Fire all three points, in addition to some very good goalkeeping from Mason Stajduhar. The part that stings even more is that the mistake came from a young man who has been near flawless the entire season.
This is not a piece to list excuses or sugarcoat another frustrating two games for Chicago on the road. This is to simply say that the set up and formula for success on the road has been on display for large portions of games. This group has clearly been missing something on the road. The numbers bear it out. The statistics for this club on the road are almost unbelievable, but here we are. No supporter will be able truly sleep well at night until the final whistle blows at Red Bull Arena, Audi Field, etc. and the Fire come away with all three points.
When will this be? I haven’t a clue. But I think there is minimal solace to be found in the fact that this team is inching closer to the elusive road victory that will hopefully open up the flood gates at other venues.