By ANTHONY ZILIS
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill — Maybe Chicago Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas needed to do more than just make tweaks to his team, as he vowed earlier this week when he took over the position.
Whatever the case, the Fire had the same result under their new head coach as their old one as they tied the Seattle Sounders, 0-0, for their sixth draw in seven games.
“That’s been the story for us. We’ve always created opportunities, but we’ve got to finish some of those,” Klopas said. “On the other hand … it’s a clean sheet for Sean and they worked very hard on that end.”
The problem for the Fire, Klopas said this week, wasn’t necessarily that they were getting out played but weren’t paying attention to detail. He said his team only needed minor changes to snap its winless streak, which has now reached ten league games.
But yet again, Fire players felt like they had the better of the chances but weren’t able to capitalize.
“I thought we created the better chances, we’re not worrying about it” midfielder Patrick Nyarko said.
“There were a lot of positives today.”
In the early going, though, Seattle was the team creating chances. A sixth-minute cross from Mauro Rosales found Lamar Neagle who turned a header on goal, forcing Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson to make a diving save.
“I kinda headed it right at him. If I put one of those anywhere else and you’ve got a goal,” Neagle said.
Johnson has played well since he regained his starting role last game against San Jose, and he was forced to make another save in the eighth minute as Neagle tested him from distance.
The Fire slowly took control of the first half, and Paladini shot from about 30 yards out in the 27th minute, forcing Kasey Keller to make a diving save.
In the second half, chances weren’t easy to come by for either team until a stoppage-time cross by Gaston Puerari nearly found Dominic Oduro at the back post. The Ghanaian wasn’t able to reach it, and Seattle was able to scrounge a point away from home.
The point keeps the Sounders steady at third place in the Western Conference, just over .500 at 5-4-6.
“Obviously we’re happy to get a point. I thought we did a good job defending, Kasey had to come up with some big saves,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “At the end of the day we’re playing a team that’s motivated, we’re playing a new coach, and to come away with a point is not that bad.”
The Fire will try to claim their first victory with their new head coach on Thursday at Kansas City. Midfielder Corben Bone, though, said the onus is on the players to get the team back on the right track rather than Klopas.
“We’re players, we know how to play,” Bone said. “The coach has information to give us before and after the game, but when we’re out on the field he can’t do much.”
Klopas pointed to a strong performance from midfielder Daniel Paladini as a positive in an otherwise underwhelming draw.
He pointed Paladini’s ability to make crosses from deep positions as important because of Seattle’s compact defense.
“Daniel had a good game. I think he has the ability out of the back to not only attack from behind but also make those diagonal balls. I think they were crucial today,” Klopas said.
“We knew that we constantly had to be switching the ball, so that was very important.”
Paladini said Klopas has encouraged him and fellow central midfielder Logan Pause to go forward.
“I found myself in good spots to get a few good chances,” Paladini said. “We just couldn’t find the net.”
Patrick Nyarko saw the field for the first time since he suffered a concussion on April 14 against Portland, his third concussion in his third year as an MLS player.
Nyarko wore a protective headband in practice this week in practice but didn’t wear it in the game because he said it was uncomfortable.
“It was a little tiring, I’ve been out for a month,” Nyarko said. “I definitely felt really good out there, even though I did not know what to expect. I was confident.”