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Unwelcome in the Midwest: Chicago Fire 3, LAFC 1

Visitors struggled and were punished in loss.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club’s six-game unbeaten streak was snapped on Saturday, as a flat performance led to a 3-1 loss against the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.

The visiting side went down 3-0 before getting a goal back, but the damage had been done by that point and Chicago won rather comfortably considering how dominant LAFC were in the non-goals statistical categories.

The scoring opened in dramatic fashion in the 20th minute, as Fire youngster Djordje Mihailovic hit an absolute golazo, a swerving volley off Brandon Vincent’s cross. It was a shot that Tyler Miller simply could not stop.

It got worse in the next 10 minutes, as Steven Beitashour barged down Brandt Bronico in the box and a penalty was called. Nemanja Nikolic stepped up and scored the spot kick to put Chicago at a 2-0 advantage.

LAFC had some chances in the first half, including a scramble before the first goal that wen in with Chicago’s desperation defense doing just enough, and opportunities for Diego Rossi and Adama Diomande later on, with Fire goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland coming off his line to smother the chance before a good shot was taken.

While LAFC huffed and puffed in the second half, they really couldn’t get on track in attack and with the deficit, seemed to tighten up. The team overall just seemed out of sorts, but they were trying to grind to get the first goal on the board.

Instead, Chicago extended their lead even further, as Aleksandar Katai came off the bench, and scored with what might have been his first touch of the game, taking a short square ball from Mihailovic on the counterattack and burying it between Miller’s legs, in the 66th minute to make it 3-0.

But Diego Rossi got that first goal for LAFC, in the 73rd minute, as he hustled to the sideline to keep the ball in play, then initiated an attack and finished it off himself, with a half-volley from a tight angle to give LAFC hope at 3-1.

There were a few half-chances after that, so LAFC put Chicago under pressure, but couldn’t find another goal on the day.

One notable moment from the game: Josh Perez made his debut for LAFC, coming off the bench to make his first appearance for the club in the 69th minute.

All in all, it wasn’t good enough for LAFC, who may have led every category except the one that decides games, and the Fire were simply more clinical. Bad days happen, and bad days coupled with opponents having good days, but it’s a disappointment nonetheless for LAFC, who had an outside shot of qualifying for the playoffs this weekend had they won.

At any rate, it’s back to work for LAFC, who will be on the road again next week, as they head to Colorado to take on the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. The Rapids have struggled mightily this season, but so had the Fire, so form may not mean much at all. We’ll see.

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