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Chicago Fire FC opens their third season at Soldier Field with a scoreless draw

WGN-TV Chicago logo WGN-TV Chicago 3/7/2022 Larry Hawley
Chicago Fire FC opens their third season at Soldier Field with a scoreless draw © Provided by WGN-TV Chicago Chicago Fire FC opens their third season at Soldier Field with a scoreless draw

CHICAGO – A combination of factors that occurred before and on Saturday helped Chicago Fire FC enjoy a near-record opening to their 2022 home season.

For one, the weather cooperated in ways it usually doesn’t in Chicago in early March, as temperatures soared to near 70 degrees with no precipitation around their 5 PM match time with Orlando City SC. A new group of players, including international star Xherdan Shaqiri, were also making their debut at Soldier Field with hopes that they can quickly turn the club’s fortunes around.

All were reasons that the Fire drew 25,477 fans for their home opener, which is the second-highest in club history, as they opened their third year of play at their original venue.

"We did know that there were going to be quite a few people out there, that it was going to be a great crowd and I think that's something that we need, for us, for the crowd to keep coming out because it's great,” said defender Miguel Navarro. “We need the support from the fans whenever we go out there.”

While they were able to get the fan interest they were hoping for, Ezra Hendrick’s team wasn’t able to crack into the win column or on the scoreboard over the course of 90 minutes. Just as they did in their road opener, the Fire settled with a scoreless draw with Orlando City SC, earning their second point of the 2022 Major League Soccer season.

It’s the second-straight clean sheet for the club and goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina, who now has six in just 13 matches in MLS.

The Fire had nine shots on goal and four on-target but failed to get on the board again while Orlando City SC had a goal in the 73 minute disallowed on a VAR review that showed a handball earlier in the play. Shaquiri set up two potential goals with crosses to the left of the goal, but headers by Kacper Pryzbylko and Brian Gutierrez couldn’t find the back of the net.

Increasing goal scoring was a major emphasis of club with their offseason moves, but Hendrickson isn’t concerned with not getting on the board in the last two matches.

“I think we have enough quality to get some goals. I think the goals will come. Had we been sitting here after a 3-3 tie, I wouldn’t have liked that. Not that I like a 0-0 tie, but at least we’re doing the defensive part of it and we’re keeping that intact,” said Hendrickson. “Now if we could continue to keep games at zero and then get the attacking part of it going, then all as well. So right now, just a couple of games into the season. Guys are still learning from each other. Today was kind of hard to play. The way we want to play because of the wind, and you know, the field not being the greatest.

“But as far as major concern, No, but you know, I like to see goals and goals win games. Now, if we could continue to keep the zero and add the attacking part to it, then you know, I’ll be much happier, to be honest.”

Keeping crowds like Saturday to build a home field advantage would help, too.

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