The first 85 minutes of the match were eventless. Completely and utterly eventless. Nothing happened. Zero. Zilch. Exceedingly rare was any semblance of a shot on target from both sides. Non-existent was a scoring chance of real quality.
Any thing close to being passable for a scoring opportunity was blasted wide of goal by varying yardage. Some, like Cristian Maidana's chip in the second half, were somewhat close to hitting the frame. Others, like anything that came off the foot of Brian Brown, missed the net by a hilarious amount of yards. At one point, Brian Brown attempted a volley from 25 yards out and launched the ball at least 50 feet in the air.
The game was dreck. The Union's play was beyond dreadful, and the Fire's somehow even more dreadful. Any upcoming goals felt entirely undeserved. No one looked good, save for maybe Andrew Wenger, who did not get the game's memo and tried his best to create opportunities. They came to nothing because of miscues, but he tried, and he deserves a gold star for that.
Everything appeared to be headed toward the worst 0-0 draw in Union history, one almost certainly destined to ruin the possibility the Union could leap back into playoff contention. But then, alas, Amobi Okugo. The same person who was benched in the U.S. Open Cup Final for who knows what idiotic reason Jim Curtin crafted in his mind saved the Union's life, at least for the time being.
Danny Cruz's cross into the box was handled so horribly by Brown that the ball bounced right to Amobi who fired the shot from the box and into the net. There was nothing Sean Johnson could do about the shot, and the Union celebrated. They celebrated a strong player with a scoring weakness getting the most vital of goals, they celebrated a season not yet loss, they celebrated because oh my mother of god something of note actually happened in the match, they celebrated because Okugo's goal came in the 88th minute and the Fire had not remotely threatened and what could possibly go wrong here...
...Enter M'Bolhi. Now it's easy to blame Rais M'Bolhi for everything here, but he is simply the pawn. He'll take a fall, but let's look at the circumstances surrounding everything.
Faced with one at-best mediocre MLS starter and an unknown but promising #1 overall pick in the 2014 MLS Superdraft (who is older than MacMath, the aforementioned mediocre starter, and maybe possibly better than crap), Nick Sakiewicz spends $400,000 (!!!) on transfer fee alone for an Algerian goalkeeper who has spent his entire career journeying around Europe with no ability to stick with any club whatsoever, even in Bulgaria, a nation not exactly known for club soccer prowess. The only claim to fame in said Algerian's career is a couple strong World Cup performances that only look great because the small sample size of seven matches has not allowed him the opportunity to properly regress yet.
M'Bolhi's makes a fatal, horrible, amateur hour error, but let's backtrack to the events leading up to said error. After receiving a horizontal free kick taken way too quickly, Vincent Nogueira passes it backward to Maurice Edu. Edu then passes it back to M'Bolhi. Keep in mind, this is happening in second half stoppage time of a 1-0 match. The idea should be to possess the ball in manners other than this.
M'Bolhi receives the pass from Edu. And despite being in a position where he can only fail at both the macro and micro level, M'Bolhi proceeds to attempt an amateur hour clearance that landed directly to the foot of Robert Earnshaw who for all intents and purposes had a breakaway. Earnshaw took two touches, chipped it over M'Bolhi, and scored the heart-breaking equalizer in stoppage time. All credit to Earnshaw, his chip shot was a lovely piece of work worthy of all the highlight reels it'll get, but the over-arching point is it should have never come to that.
Sakiewicz should have never overspent on a goalkeeper with other, more pressing needs, namely at the striker position where Conor Casey has been overused this season and now suffers from tendinitis in his knee. Though the diagnosis came tonight after the match, who ever could have predicted 33-year old Conor Casey would have an issue or two with injuries after being used consistently and repeatedly for an entire season. The Union should have never used a free kick in the Fire half to practice horizontal and backward passing. M'Bolhi should recognize his distribution skills are sorely lacking and just kick the ball in the away from any and all Chicago Fire people. If it goes out for a throw-in, so be it, at least the Union will have some time to set up against what was for 90 minutes an utterly feckless attack. But nope, M'Bolhi attempted *that* clearance, and paid the price for it.
The result leaves the Union in seventh place and two points out of fifth place. Everyone ahead of the Union have a game-in-hand on them, except for Toronto, who has two.
Nick Sakiewicz ignored the striker issue so he could gamble on goalkeeping during the transfer window. Nick Sakiewicz lost, and the 2014 Union are toast because of it.