Chicago and its fans are probably tired of hearing it, but Saturday’s game in Montréal fit a larger pattern. In games against New York and Philadelphia, the Fire were unable to convert superior play into an edge on the scoreboard, something that left Frank Yallop’s team with four straight draws going into Stade Olympique. Undone by another defensive error, however, Chicago were forced to settle for another draw, with goals by Jack McInerney and Quincy Amarikwa leaving two winless teams to share points after a 1-1 result.
McInerney’s goal, coming in his Montréal debut, came after the same type of defensive aberrational error that undid Chicago last week against Philadelphia. But whereas it was Bakary Soumaré’s slow reactions after a blocked shot and the team’s inability to deal with a cross-cum-shot that cost it points at home, this week it was a moment’s failing from the club’s best defender. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado’s giveaway and subsequent inability to get back in position late in the first half allowed Marco Di Vaio to set up McInerney, who finished off Sean Johnson’s leg for the game’s opening goal.
Nine minutes into the second half, Chicago pulled the goal back, with Amarikwa’s third of the season giving the Fire 36 minutes to claim its first win. Yet despite outshooting Montréal 17-6, the visitors were only able to put five shots on goal. For a team the lacks a dominant goal scoring threat (assuming Mike Magee doesn’t replicate his 2013 form), Hurtado’s single mistake proved too much to fully overcome.
The game reflects the team’s thin margins. With Hurtado and Soumaré at the back, Chicago is good but also exploitable. A midfield of Jeff Larentowicz and Alex is a decent-if-average pairing, a description that may also ultimately apply to Magee and Amarikwa. Though Yallop has his team playing well, he also has a collection of talent that may not be able to transcend the type of mistakes Chicago’s consistently committed thus far.
In that way, Montréal were a bit fortunate. Even amid a 0-3-3 start, this was one of the team’s more disappointment performances, but because of Chicago’s own issues, the Impact were able to claim a point. Against most teams in the league, that performance would have seen the team leave the field empty-handed. Just like last week, when a weakened New York was able to get a result out of Olympic Stadium, Montréal failed to take advantage of a struggling team at home, hinting at the extend of the team’s problems.
Perhaps the 4-4-2 Frank Klopas switched to against the Fire will eventually pay off, but the lack of chances for Di Vaio and McInerney wasn’t a good start. Winless in six, the Impact remain at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.