Fire score late to tie Vancouver

There are things happening with the Fire that don’t involve lease negotiations or their identity.

Entering Friday’s game against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the Fire had been showing some positive signs. They had picked up four points over their previous two games, and a defense that had been giving up chances was beginning to tighten.

Those good things somewhat continued Friday.

The Fire tied Vancouver 1-1 at SeatGeek Stadium. Looking for a result in their third straight game, the Fire have picked up five points over their last three.

With Nicolas Gaitan making his first start since arriving in Chicago, the Fire controlled the first half but were unable to convert chances and went into the break scoreless.

The second half did not start as well.

Vancouver took a 1-0 lead in the 53rd minute on a Yordy Reyna goal, but Fire goalie David Ousted was just as responsible. Ousted went to ground at the edge of the 18-yard box to keep control of the ball but was unable to hang on, batting it to Reyna who scored from a difficult angle.

The Fire did get even later. After a VAR review, the Fire were awarded a penalty after a handball in the box was spotted on Vancouver’s Doneil Henry. Nemanja Nikolic then beat Maxime Crepeau to even the game in the 84th minute.

Friday was another chance for the Fire to get points at home.

Because of a schedule heavy on early home games, it would figure that getting off to a decent start would be even more important for the Fire. Friday was their fourth home game of six to start the season, with another coming up next Saturday when they host the Colorado Rapids.

But Ousted didn’t quite see it that way. He looks at the Fire as a team that can go on the road and get points.

“MLS is a league that’s heavy on the home-game points, and we’re aware of that. That being said, I also believe that we’re progressing into a team that can go away from home and get points and get wins,” Ousted said earlier this week. “I’m not going to limit this team to only winning at home. I think we can do both. We have a mentality of when we’re playing home games, we want to get three points.”

What would help the Fire continue to get points and stay in the Eastern Conference playoff race is more stout defense. On Friday, the Fire stuck with Johan Kappelhof at right back, Jeremiah Gutjahr at left back, and a central defense pairing of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Marcelo.

After making progress there over the last two games, the Fire kept it up against a Vancouver team that entered Friday having scored four goals in five games that sat 11th in the 12-team Western Conference.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Ousted said. “It’s still a process that we need to go through and need to be very aware of.”

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