With somebody like Marco Di Vaio in the team, often all you have to do is keep it close. Today at Stade Saputo, that basic formula came good for Montréal, a team that carried a seven-game losing streak into today’s visit from Chicago. Thanks to an 82nd minute finish from the Italian veteran, Frank Klopas’s team is back in the win column for the first time June 30, defeating Chicago, 1-0.
It was a game where the lack of action overshadowed what the teams did on the field, perhaps unsurprising given the seven combined wins (in 44 games) they brought into the match. At halftime, the teams had yet to register a shot on target and may have ended scoreless had it not been for a poor 82nd minute clearance from Razvan Cocis. In the right place at the right time, Di Vaio beat Sean Johnson from just inside the top of the penalty area, ending seven weeks of futility for Montréal.
For Chicago, it’s the latest in a collection of alarming results, with July 24th’s 5-1 loss at San Jose the first hint things were going from inept to disheartening. Wednesday’s 6-0, U.S. Open Cup loss rekindled that sentiment, but today’s defeat in Quebec may be worst result yet. Montréal is the worst team in the league, didn’t play particularly well, yet still claimed victory over Chicago.
Though the Fire are still within reach of the playoffs, the team appears to have taken a step back from last year’s product. Now 385 minutes without a goal from open play in MLS, Chicago’s attack has regressed, leaving it as problematic as Frank Yallop’s troublesome defense. Today, the two conspired to sink the team to another low.
At some point, it will be time to draw some conclusions about Yallop’s stewardship. With the postseason still a possibility, now doesn’t seem the time, but if the team can’t show improvement over its last 11 games, owner Andrew Hauptman will need to consider whether last offseason’s upheaval didn’t send the club in the wrong direction.