Chicago Fire Battle D.C. United to 0-0 Draw at Toyota Park
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (Oct. 28, 2018) - The Chicago Fire played D.C. United to a 0-0 draw in the 2018 regular season finale at Toyota Park on Sunday evening.
The match, which served as Fan Appreciation Day presented by AT&T, saw 19,459 fans attend the Fire's final game of the 2018 MLS season.
Forward Alan Gordon, who announced his retirement from professional soccer this morning, made his final MLS appearance when he entered the match in the 62nd minute of play.
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Veljko Paunovic - Head Coach, Chicago Fire
If there was a moment in the season that signaled a turning point:
"I think there were a couple of turning points that we missed. I think the main moment was when we stepped in against the top six teams. We couldn't just sustain there and be consistent with the performance. We lost the momentum, I think it was against Philly at home, I think that was a very important game for us and also some games before that. We were kind of very close to getting rid of the burden that we were carrying with injuries from last season and this season at the beginning, too. So as I said before, in Spanish, we were looking for that moment where we get the win that will give us the necessary confidence so that we can carry on throughout the rest of the season and throughout the period where we were punished, severely punished with the injuries, until the injured guys come back. I think that was the progress once we had them back. Day by day, training was better and the competition in training and in games was better. So I think injuries hurt us. We weren't capable to go beyond these difficulties and deal with this tough adversities and that's something that we have to learn so that we can understand the importance of that part of the game, which is dealing with injuries, dealing with difficulties, and overall having to play a long season and having a complicated schedule. Especially in moments when the other team starts to get decisive, which is between July and August, where every point is important. Short answer, I think we never got to the point where we played confidently and without the burden of the past we were carrying throughout the season."
On stopping Wayne Rooney:
"I think having Bastian Schweinsteiger next to him helps a lot. It helps in the challenges where he has to play one-on-one against him but also to deal and organize the back line so we could be more dense. Djordje and Dax did a great job cutting out Acosta. I think the two of them, they connect very well. Rooney lays off the balls to him and then the final pass, and the talent Acosta has is very difficult to defend and obviously a lot of quality there. I think between our two center backs, Bastian and Jonny Campbell, and our two midfielders, Dax and Djordje, did a great job playing 4v2 basically all the time, against the two of them and that was very helpful for the rest of the team. They can deal with their one-on-one battles around the whole field and that was very helpful. But definitely, it wasn't easy. It wasn't easy. I think they got a couple of opportunities and they are capable of creating chances. But huge credit to those guys and the whole team today for the defensive performance I think we had, and that at the end reflected in the result where we didn't concede a goal. We just have to do a better job on the other side of the ball and take advantage of the opportunities in the first half and score goals in those moments where we were very close. I think we had a couple of good chances."
On Alan Gordon's retirement and what he brought to the team:
"First of all, we all want to thank him for an amazing spirit he brought into the locker room. A winner, experienced guy who never gives up. Somebody who is always with a good humor. Every morning he comes with a renewed enthusiasm to work together with the rest of the team and the staff. So he was very, very inspiring for the locker room and for the staff, too. We all had a great relationship with him and when he said he was thinking about retiring and probably that he's going to make that decision, we felt like he left an open door here at this Club. This is the kind of guy that you want, not only on the field, but later in the structure of the Club, if he obviously wants that to continue. But that's maybe a different discussion, but I just want to thank him and tell him that we were very grateful for everything he did. It's not easy after playing so many years in a professional level and environment and where every year the demand of the game is higher and higher and you have to push your body more and more, definitely he did that very well. That's why he has such a long career and success in it. So we are all very grateful and blessed that we had the opportunity to work and live with him for this one season. No matter what the season and our success was this year, what is the most important thing is the people who matter and, in his case, I think he's a great man and leader and we all want to wish him good luck in the future and hopefully, at some point we can work together again."
A transcription of Paunovic's full press conference can be found here.
Bastian Schweinsteiger - Midfielder, Chicago Fire
Thoughts on the season as a whole:
"The season was not easy because we had many injured players from the beginning. Then, when you're missing some main keys in your game, it affects it a little bit, it's not as easy then to play with different players through the whole season. Still, we were always close in some games, we didn't lose many games by far. It was not that teams really dominated us. The mentality of this team and the character, we never gave up, that was good to see. But of course, you could see throughout the season, it was not a coincidence that we are where we are. We missed some quality pieces, I think, and that makes a difference in the games at the end of the day."
On defending against Wayne Rooney:
"I think that, of course, Wayne, you always have to keep an eye on him. With one chance, he can make the goal like he did in D.C. so you have to keep an eye on him. But not only him, D.C. has some pieces, especially their offensive threat. You always have to keep an eye on it. I wish him all the best for the playoffs, it's great that he joined the league. But we did today a good job against not only him, against all of their offensive players."
On the defensive performance of the team:
"You have to defend, not only do you have to play against one player, they have also, for example, Acosta who is good. Also the wingers are good, you have to keep an eye on them. It's a team effort and I think the team effort was today good against the ball. I was trying to keep an eye on him, of course, that's how you stop these kinds of players. But also the offensive players today did a great job against the ball. If the offensive players in our team are working defensively good, that's easier than for the back line to defend."
Chicago Fire 0:0 D.C. United
Oct. 28, 2018 - Toyota Park
CHI - Dax McCarty (caution) 54'
CHI - Bastian Schweinsteiger (caution) 79'
Chicago Fire: Patrick McLain; Diego Campos, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Jonathan Campbell, Brandon Vincent; Dax McCarty ©, Djordje Mihailovic (Matt Polster 70'); Raheem Edwards, Aleksandar Katai, Nicolas Hasler (Yura Movsisyan 77'); Nemanja Nikolic (Alan Gordon 62')
Subs not used: Stefan Cleveland, Jorge Corrales, Brandt Bronico, Daniel Johnson
Shots: 11; Shots On-Goal: 2; Fouls: 19; Saves: 1; Offsides: 1; Corners: 12
D.C. United: Bill Hamid, Frederic Brillant, Joseph Mora, Steve Birnbaum, Nick DeLeon, Junior Moreno, Ulises Segura (Yamil Asad 85'), Luciano Acosta, Paul Arriola, Russell Canouse, Wayne Rooney ©
Subs not used: Travis Worra, Kevin Ellis, Zoltan Stieber, Jalen Robinson, Darren Mattocks, Christopher Durkin
Shots: 9; Shots On-Goal: 1; Fouls: 13; Saves: 2; Offsides: 0; Corners: 4
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Major League Soccer Stories from October 28, 2018
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