Not flu­ent in fin­ish

Fire re­al­ize they have to do a bet­ter job of putting away their chances

Chicago Sun-Times - - RED STARS BEAT - BY BRIAN SANDALOW | @bri­ansan­dalow

The Fire re­ally should’ve beaten the Columbus Crew last Satur­day. They led 2-0 af­ter the first 15 min­utes and had chances to put the game out of reach and earn three points against one of the top teams in the league.

The best op­por­tu­nity came in the 86th minute, when El­liot Col­lier sent in a low cross for Prze­mys­law Frankowski, whose near-post shot was stopped by Crew goal­keeper Eloy Room. It was a good save, but Frankowski, who had most of the net to shoot at, shot the ball right at Room.

Two min­utes later, Gyasi Zardes scored the equal­izer. The dis­ap­point­ing re­sult pro­longed a wor­ri­some pat­tern for the Fire: missed chances lead­ing to dropped points. It’s a flaw they hope to fix Satur­day, when they visit Or­lando City FC (5-2-4, 19 points).

“I think fin­ish­ing chances or fin­ish­ing plays, it’s of­ten de­tails, it’s of­ten con­cen­tra­tion, it’s of­ten, is it the last pass, is it the fi­nal cross, is it your ac­tual fin­ish­ing?” Fire coach Raphael Wicky said. “So it has to do a lit­tle bit with ev­ery­thing. There’s not one but­ton you can press, and then it works. You have to keep work­ing in train­ing . . . . There’s no pres­sure, no op­po­nent. You have to be fo­cused and con­cen­trate and try to score all of these chances you have in train­ing.”

What­ever the Fire (2-6-3, nine points) are work­ing on in train­ing has to trans­late bet­ter to the field.

En­ter­ing Fri­day, they were 12th in the 14team East­ern Con­fer­ence. Ten East teams will reach the post­sea­son in an ex­panded for­mat, and the Fire miss­ing out on the play­offs ob­vi­ously would not sig­nal on-field progress.

The dull fin­ish­ing edge hasn’t been the only cul­prit this sea­son, but it has played a part. Wicky knows it’s some­thing the Fire must fix.

“You have to re­peat things,’’ Wicky said. ‘‘You have to be­lieve and stay pos­i­tive. There’s a lot of things. But we cre­ate a lot, and we have to keep work­ing in train­ing. I think a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude and be­lief that you can score and will score is very, very im­por­tant. So it’s a mix of ev­ery­thing.”

Striker Robert Beric, whose first-half goal against the Crew ended a seven-game dry spell, pin­pointed a re­lated is­sue that has plagued the Fire all year.

“We didn’t make [big] mis­takes,’’ Beric said, ‘‘and then it’s the sec­ond half, and we were not at our best. I think we have this prob­lem that we can­not keep the con­cen­tra­tion on some­thing.

‘‘I don’t know ex­actly what to say on that, but we have to keep work­ing on that, to be fo­cused the whole 90 min­utes. We can­not draw when we are ahead 2-0, you know? We just have to keep work­ing on our fo­cus, on our con­cen­tra­tion.” ✶

‘‘We can­not draw when we are ahead 2-0, you know? We just have to keep work­ing on our fo­cus, on our con­cen­tra­tion.’’ Robert Beric

CHICAGO FIRE FC

Striker Robert Beric says the Fire have been guilty of los­ing their con­cen­tra­tion dur­ing games.

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