The Chicago Fire went into Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, just miles away from Salt Lake City, winless in their last three matches, and it looked as if that trend would continue when Alvaro Saborio put Real Salt Lake broke a scoreless tie in front of 18,293 fans to send the stadium into a frenzy.
The Fire, having only scored six goals all season coming into the match, managed to find a late equalizer as young defenders Jalil Anibaba and Austin Berry assisted a breath-taking goal from an airborne Quincy Amarikwa in eighty-fourth, proving the seventy-fourth minute substitution that brought him into the game for Dilly Duka was a wise one. A minute later, Patrick Nyarko would receive a yellow card, but the Fire had already pulled off the comeback and the game ended with a 1-1 final score. For just the second time this season, the Fire earned a point in standings on the road.
Despite the late comeback, the game as a whole was not encouraging going forward. The Fire were outplayed in almost every aspect of the game. Real Salt Lake held a huge advantage in possession (68% to just 32%), committed less fouls, out-shot the Fire twenty to twelve, included nine shots to two on target, and won a majority of the deuls. The Fire got outplayed for most of the match and were very lucky to come out with a draw, and it took a fantastic goal by Amarikwa to earn it.
Despite being outplayed, there are positive to draw from the match as suggested by the score. Bakary Soumare made the debut of his second stint with the Fire, and Mike Magee will be available for game action shortly, providing a legitimate scoring threat. More importantly, the team fought back to get that draw, they were able to raise their level of play late in the match, showing great resiliency. This game could be a turning point in the season when looked back upon as the season goes on, but in the mean time, it is an important point the Fire picked up. Unfortunately, as the Fire saw in 2011, draws alone won’t get a team into the post-season and three points will need to be picked up consistently as the year goes on.
The Fire travel to Charlotte to take on the Charlotte Eagles on the road on Wednesday to kick off their road to the U.S. Open Cup. The Fire have previously won the tournament in 1998, 2000, 2003, and 2006.