After rolling through five June matches without a loss, Chicago Fire fell 3-2 in Vancouver last Saturday. The Whitecaps exploited Veljko Paunovic’s high defensive line to repeatedly stage speedy breakaways. But Chicago responded through Nemanja Nikolic and a stunning late blast from Tony Tchani.
Even though he gave up three goals, Chicago goalkeeper Richard Sanchez was a standout performer Saturday night. Before Kei Kamara scored Vancouver’s opener, Sanchez made two big stops on the play, and his reaction save to tip Alphonso Davies’ breakaway onto the post gave Chicago life in the 31st minute.
But a makeshift center back pairing of Brandon Vincent and Jonathan Campbell could not contain the Whitecaps, and despite dominating possession the Fire fell short. Tchani’s unbelievable goal in the 81st minute gave Chicago hope, and they poured on pressure, creating five shots in the final ten minutes of the game.
Controlling the ball is something Chicago did not do when they came to Philly earlier this season. Injuries and a love of tinkering led Paunovic to put out a man-to-man marking system with Bastian Schweinsteiger at sweeper, spraying the ball around the pitch. With Dax McCarty healthy again, the Fire and Union will battle for dominance of the ball on Wednesday night at 8:30 PM on PHL17.