BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Minnesota United FC’s offensive attack was as cold as the unseasonably chilly temperatures that settled over SeatGeek Stadium on Saturday night.
The Loons managed just two first-half shots and five for the game in a lackluster 2-0 loss to the Chicago Fire in Major League Soccer.
“I just don’t think we had enough energy in the first half, our energy levels were poor,” Loons coach Adrian Heath said. “And I can’t remember any sustained pressure other than 10 or 15 minutes in the second half.”
Minnesota (4-4-3) ended a three-game unbeaten streak. The Loons have scored just two goals in their past four games and have been shut out twice.
Chicago (4-4-4) won its second straight and extended its unbeaten run to three games.
Game-time temperatures hovered in the mid-40s with brisk north winds, considerably below the 69-degree average more typical on this date in the Chicago area.
But Heath said the weather wasn’t really a factor. Each team had the wind against it one half, then had it at their backs during the other. The problem was the overall performance.
“We just weren’t sharp, especially in the first half,” Loons defender Brent Kallman said. “The first half they defended very, very deep and we didn’t do a good job breaking it down. … When you have possession, you want it to end with a shot.”
The Loons had not lost since a 4-3 decision on April 19 in Toronto. They have struggled offensively since with just two goals over four games, including a 1-1 tie against Seattle on May 4 at home.
Chicago was aggressive from the start and pushed for an early lead as Loons goalie Vito Mannone dived early to block a try by Fire midfielder Aleksandar Katai, whose shot hit the left post.
Katai tried again five minutes later and Mannone deflected the ball to Chicago scoring leader Nemanja Nikolic (five goals), whose rebound shot dribbled wide left.
The Fire broke the scoreless tie in the 21st minute as Nicolas Gaitan capped a 4-on-2 counterattack for his second goal of the season. Przemyslaw Frankowski provided an on-target feed and earned the assist.
Katai made it 2-0 in the 34th minute with a liner along the goal line past Mannone and into the right corner of the net.
Katai was credited with eight shots while five different Loons had one apiece.
“We’re disappointed, and it obviously gives me a lot of food for thought moving forward,” Heath said.
The Loons have made only one previous trip to Bridgeview, a 2-1 victory in 2017 that was the franchise’s first road triumph.
It’s also likely to be Minnesota’s last.
The Fire are in negotiations to exit a 30-year lease with the Village of Bridgeview and return next year to Chicago’s Soldier Field, home of the NFL’s Bears. The Fire played at Soldier Field from 1998-2001 and 2003-05.
Bridgeview officials told the Chicago Tribune last week that a $60.5 lease million buyout was in the works.
Minnesota United will face Columbus next Saturday in the first of two straight matches at Allianz Field.