CHICAGO (ABC4 Sports) – There was very little smoke and too much fire for Real Salt Lake Saturday night.
Robert Beric scored the only goal of the game for the Chicago Fire, who handed RSL a tough 1-0 loss that keeps Real Salt Lake below the playoff line in the Western Conference.
Already eliminated from playoff contention, the Fire outshot RSL 25-16, including a 10-5 advantage on frame.
“I think playing away from home in this league is very difficult,” said interim head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “I think when you play against teams that don’t have playoff implications, they don’t have any nerves.They are playing free with nothing to lose.”
Near the end of the first half, a great ball from beyond midfield by Mauricio Pineda was played to Miguel Navarro on the left-hand side of the scoring area, who sent a beautiful cross to Beric, who turned and put it past David Ochoa for his fifth goal in as many matches to make it 1-0.
“We were asleep for the first half,” said RSL midfielder Albert Rusnak. “We let them take the lead and then 45 minutes of good football wasn’t enough today. I would say they dominated the first half, we dominated the second half, but we didn’t put the ball in the back of the net.”
Ochoa made eight saves to keep RSL within striking distance, but they could not amount enough scoring chances, as 17-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina was rarely tested.
RSL (12-12-6) remains in eighth place in the Western Conference Standings, two points behind Vancouver for the final playoff spot.
“I thought the effort was there tonight, but we fell short,” said Ochoa. “It just puts more emphasis on the next one, it makes this next game more important. At this point the last four are must-wins. It sucks being out of the playoff race right now, but our destiny is still in our own hands.”
Real Salt Lake next plays at FC Dallas Wednesday night.