The final hour in Chicago proved why the Crew are continuing to search for a forward to be their next Designated Player.
Although the Crew scored once while playing with an extra man after a Gonzalo Segares red card, the inability to overcome an early deficit was too much in a 2-1 loss to the Fire on Saturday. Scoring with a one-man advantage is not a guarantee, but the only reason the Crew did not join four other MLS teams who had three or more goals this weekend was because of offensive ineptitude.
“We had the possession," midfielder Chris Birchall told MLSsoccer.com after the match. "We weren’t getting on the end of things. Sometimes you can get a goal off a set piece and hide the fact you’re not scoring goals and making plays. It’s a problem that’s got to be addressed.”
After Segares' exit in the 29th minute, Tony Tchani cut the two-goal deficit in half seven minutes later. The Crew, however, were unable to surpass their goal-a-game average even though everyone in Toyota Park understood they would push the pace.
HIGHLIGHTS: CHI 2, CLB 1
“[Chicago] knew coming out in the second half we were going to bombard them,” Birchall said. “We had a couple of good chances but other than that, we weren’t a threat.”
Even with a little extra room to work on the pitch, the Crew did not spread the ball around enough to make Chicago work harder defensively.
“In the second half, we were trying to do the right things, but I think we were on the ball too much,” head coach Robert Warzycha said.
Two things must happen if the Crew hope to solve their offensive woes. Emilio Rentería must regain last season's form – eight goals in 18 games – and forward Olman Vargas has to be given a chance to show what he can do.
Warzycha has opted to use midfielder Eddie Gaven as a hybrid forward instead of Vargas, who played just 15 minutes Saturday and whose lone goal came in the second game of the season. It’s certainly not what the team or Vargas envisioned when the Costa Rican signed a high-profile contract in January.
Rentería continues to struggle with only two goals in 13 games and faltered Saturday when he had a couple of chances near goal. Meanwhile, Jairo Arrieta joins the team this week and while Warzycha said he won’t play the Costa Rican forward until he is fit, the Crew might consider expediting his training.