The Chicago Fire have been eliminated from the 2012 MLS playoffs after losing to the Houston Dynamo at Toyota Park on Oct. 31. The Fire allowed the Dynamo to get an early lead and failed to equalize. The team's loss in the first knockout round of the playoffs has ended its season, but it has also emphasized areas that need improvement for 2013.
Chicago Fire vs. Houston Dynamo 1-2
The Houston Dynamo's Will Bruin scored twice at the Oct. 31 match, and the Chicago Fire's Alex followed with one goal in the 83rd minute. The knockout game followed a pattern fans have seen many times with the Chicago Fire giving up an early goal and desperately trying to make a comeback in the second half. On Oct. 31, the comeback was not successful because Alex was only able to score one goal while mistakes dominated the game. The late substitution of Alex for Dominic Oduro also raised questions about head coach Frank Klopas' decision not to use him in the first half.
The lack of attack from Chicago was one of the main problems at the game, and offense simply failed to be more active in the first half. Jalil Anibaba's missed shot was later followed by a serious mistake that let Will Bruin make a goal. Despite the need for urgency in the second half, fans witnessed a combination of bad passing and more mistakes with a slightly raised level of aggression. It was also an uncharacteristic night for goalie Sean Johnson who struggled to make saves. The first round of the MLS playoffs finished with a final score of 1-2.
The Season is Over for the Chicago Fire
The Fire's elimination from the 2012 MLS playoffs has ended the season for the team. After losing four of the last six games, they are faced with serious questions about the roster and future. Although there have been many modifications and improvements in 2012, there is still room for more. Fans can expect changes as the Chicago Fire begin to evaluate the players, look forward to the draft and regroup for next season.
More from this contributor:
Lana follows MLS, UEFA and FIFA. She has been a faithful fan of the Chicago Fire since 1998. Follow @Lana_Bandoim on Twitter.