United (2-1-0) conceded targets for the first time, and though it loved a wealth of possession and alternative within the second half, it got here away empty.
“We are still missing the final ball, the final touch to be more accurate and precise,” Coach Hernán Losada stated.
The defeat additionally uncovered United’s incomplete roster. With the first switch and commerce deadline arriving May 4, the crew stays out there for a 3rd designated participant and desperately wants midfield assist. The summer season window additionally will supply a possibility.
Greek ahead Taxiarchis Fountas, the crew’s highest-paid participant, isn’t scheduled to arrive till the summer season, and United’s efforts to purchase him this spring have failed to this point.
“We knew the opponent we had in front of us, the quality — and mostly individually — how strong Chicago was — players in the final third [of the attack] that unfortunately we don’t have yet,” Losada stated.
Captain Steven Birnbaum stated the participant search hasn’t distracted the squad.
“It’s kind of above our pay grade,” he stated. “Guys that are here are fighting and battling, and we’ve done it all together, and we’re pushing.”
United received its first two matches for the first time in 23 years, however that got here in opposition to mild competitors. On Saturday, the membership obtained a sobering actuality test in opposition to an improved opponent.
Stanislav Ivanov scored within the first half and substitute Jonathan Bornstein transformed within the second earlier than an introduced crowd of 13,795 that braved a wind chill within the teenagers.
Chicago (1-0-2) hasn’t certified for the playoffs since 2017, however with the addition of Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri from Olympique Lyonnais and Polish ahead Kacper Przybylko from Philadelphia, it’s primed for higher days.
The guests even have 17-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina, who has begun to obtain U.S. senior nationwide crew call-ups. On Saturday, he was put to the take a look at within the 14th minute, making a reflex save on Ola Kamara’s close-in header. His counterpart, Bill Hamid, answered two minutes later with a one-on-one save in opposition to Mauricio Pineda.
Chicago went forward within the thirty second minute on a sequence that started with Slonina’s lengthy ball and, after two touches, continued with Fabian Herbers connecting with the unmarked Shaqiri. His low cross focused Ivanov on the again facet. Retreating Brad Smith deflected the ball, however Ivanov received to it earlier than Hamid for the Fire’s first objective of the season.
United dominated possession within the second half however labored to apply the ending touches — one thing that always has bedeviled the crew over two seasons. Promising buildups fizzled with inexact passing, unhealthy choices and wayward photographs.
Midway by the half, Losada opted for a two-striker entrance, changing creator Edison Flores with Michael Estrada. Seconds after the transfer, Estrada was effectively positioned to settle for a cross from Kamara within the heart of the field, however Kamara selected a unique possibility.
More attacking energy arrived within the 74th minute when ahead Nigel Robertha made his season debut, however United continued to hit roadblocks.
The Fire prolonged its lead within the eightieth minute. Boris Sekulic crossed from the precise facet. Gastón Giménez flicked the ball to the again facet. Bornstein, a former U.S. nationwide crew defender who will flip 38 this fall, was ready for a left-footed, one-time smash.
United, Losada stated, will look to “keep improving, especially from the collective point of view, because individually this is all that we have.”
United will go to Toronto FC (0-2-1) subsequent Saturday earlier than coming into a two-week break for a FIFA worldwide window.
Here’s what else to find out about United’s loss:
After beginning the identical lineup for the first two matches, Losada made three adjustments: Kamara for Estrada at striker, Adrien Perez for Griffin Yow in attacking midfield, and rookie Sofiane Djeffal, in his first begin, for the suspended Moses Nyeman in defensive midfield.
Chicago’s victory was the first as a head coach for Ezra Hendrickson, a defender on United’s most up-to-date MLS Cup championship crew (2004). He was a candidate for D.C.’s head teaching function earlier than Losada was employed earlier than the 2021 season.
Hendrickson, 50, was an assistant with Seattle, the LA Galaxy and Columbus earlier than succeeding Fire interim coach Frank Klopas in November.
With 4 D.C. gamers within the beginning lineup, second-division Loudoun United received its USL Championship opener by defeating Indy Eleven, 1-0, at Segra Field in Leesburg.
Forward Kimarni Smith, a MLS first-round draft decide in 2021, scored within the forty third minute, assisted by Ted Ku-DiPietro, a D.C. homegrown signing this winter. D.C. defenders Jacob Greene and Hayden Sargis additionally began.
Loudoun completed 4-25-3 final 12 months.