The Crew's woes at Toyota Park continue in 2013 as the Black & Gold fell to the Chicago Fire 1-0 Saturday night despite a brilliant display of goalkeeping from Andy Gruenebaum. The Crew hasn't beaten the Fire on the road since Gruenebaum's first career start in October 2006.
After a slow first half that provided few chances for either side, the Fire came out of the locker room for the second half raring to go. The Chicago attack peppered Gruenebaum early and often in the second 45 minutes as the Crew 'keeper put on a stellar showing between the pipes to keep a clean sheet through 80 minutes.
But in the 83rd minute, Fire midfielder Jeff Larentowicz buried an Austin Berry flick from Jalil Anibaba's long throw-in to provide the difference and extend the Crew's winless drought at Toyota Park to 10 matches.
"[The Fire]came out with a lot of energy," Gruenebaum said of his opponent's second half performance. "They have dangerous players. They made us defend for long stretches and we just couldn't get control. It's difficult to walk away with a result when you're defending for that long of a stretch."
Chicago out-shot the Crew 21-6 as Gruenebaum made six saves-- all in the second half-- to do his part in keeping the Black & Gold in the match. The mark is a season-high for the Crew netminder through seven matches in 2013.
The Crew had a chance to equalize on a Federico Higuaín free kick attempt in the final minute of stoppage time, but Gláuber's header was wide of the mark.
In the end though, the Crew's effort wasn't enough. The team will head back to Columbus with the taste of defeat in its mouth for just the second time this season.
"It's tough to stomach," defender Josh Williams said after the match.
"I didn't think we played well at all. There is no excuse for coming out the way we did."
RELIEF FROM THE ROAD
Saturday's match capped a stretch of five of the Crew's first seven matches of the season coming on the road. Next week, the Black & Gold return to Crew Stadium to kick off a three-match homestand against D.C. United, the New York Red Bulls and the Colorado Rapids.
After drawing its first two home matches of 2013, the Crew will look to bounce back next week and win in front of its fans for the first time this season.
"I think everyone is frustrated now, but we've got some games at home coming up here," Williams said. "We need all the points and win every single one of those games."
Added Gruenebaum: "We're looking forward to [playing at home]. They're going to be a couple of must-wins. We've got to get those results at home."