Chicago Fire vs New England Revolution: Homecoming At Last

The Chicago Fire returned to Soldier Field. (Photo by Robin Alam/ISI Photos/Getty Images).
The Chicago Fire returned to Soldier Field. (Photo by Robin Alam/ISI Photos/Getty Images). /

The Chicago Fire did not take long to start off the 2021 MLS Season with a bang. Unfortunately, they could not hold onto that excitement for long as their home opener against the New England Revolution ended in a 2-2 draw. Let’s take a look at what happened in the game real quick before discussing takeaways.

As stated, the Chicago Fire came out strong in the beginning, deploying a beautiful heavy press. In the 5th minute, Luka Stojanovic played a one-two with Chinonso Offor, then sent it to the right for Boris Sekulic. Sekulic laid it off to Robert Beric who capitalized on the empty net. Only six minutes later in the 11th, Offor once again held up the ball, laying it off to Przemyslaw Frankowski out on the wing. Frankowski’s cross to Beric was too heavy, but Beric had the leverage to head it back down to an on-running Luka Stojanovic.

This lead for the Fire didn’t last long, with Adam Buksa getting big against Francisco Calvo in the 14th minute off of a corner kick. Later in the 27th, Tajon Buchanan worked a cross past Jonathan Bornstein to barely reach Gustavo Bou for the equalizer. The second half saw the momentum shift over towards the New England Revolution, although the chances were still leaning more towards Chicago. Both teams had big chances after the 85th minute, with Beric missing with the keeper to beat and later New England’s Edward Kizza clanging a header off the crossbar.

The big ending came from an injury time play where DeJuan Jones brought down Frankowski from behind just inside the box. It was ruled a red card for Denial of a Goal Scoring Opportunity, but the spot of the foul went to VAR, which ruled that the foul was initiated outside the box. The ensuing free-kick did not matter as Gaston Gimenez’s shot fell harmlessly into Matt Turner’s arms.

Now here are three things we learned from the Chicago Fire’s opening game of the 2021 season.

That Comfy Feeling

There’s a lot that can be said about the match itself, but the most important thing to talk about going forward is the reintroduction of fans at the match. As someone who actually went to Soldier Field and attended myself, I saw the players reacting differently than they did in the empty preseason matches or the matches from last season. It’s also just so good to be back in a stadium with real organic noise.

When asked about it after the game Chicago Fire captain Francisco Calvo agreed with that sentiment, saying “…they’re going to be so important for us all season.” Seeing Robert Beric finally interact with a crowd really makes you feel like he’s going to score even more goals this season because scoring goals for fans is fun. And at its core, soccer is about fun.


The Chicago Fire’s attack had a lot of standout players today with Chinonso Offor’s solid hold-up play to kick-start both goals, Przemyslaw Frankowski’s far post crosses, and Robert Beric’s general danger in the final third. But the biggest player by far in this game was Luka Stojanovic, who made his first appearance in an MLS regular season game, after playing a total of just 61 minutes last year in the MLSisBack Cup before a knee injury ended his season.

While Stojanovic wears the number 8 and teammate Alvaro Medran wears the number 10, it seemed like their roles were switched. Medran tracked back fairly often while it appeared to be Stojanovic who was the driving force in the offense. His passes were with purpose and had the creativity to help create that scoring explosion at the beginning of the game. Unfortunately, he’s still coming back from an injury and a long time without playing, so he had to come off around the 65th minute. But he has impressed in this game and will hopefully continue to do so the rest of the season.

Closing Time

Being an analyst for the Chicago Fire seems to be a pretty easy job at this point because every single game, you can point to a single glaring problem for this team. It’s certainly not the only problem, but it’s one that will come up again and again throughout the season. I’m obviously talking about the problem with defending, something I mentioned in the preview. The Chicago defense is simply not good enough.

Francisco Calvo remains an enigma. He has moments of brilliance, but also moments of complete idiocy. This isn’t something that just averages out to just make him mediocre, his moments of idiocy actively hurt the team more than an average player. On the corner kick goal for Adam Buksa, Calvo didn’t make it that hard for Nuksa to get over him and at other times, he simply gives the ball away too easy.

The Chicago Fire have an offense that can win, but they do not have a defense that can close out that win. Luckily they held it to just two goals as New England seemed to be off tonight, but the Fire defense created too many chances for their opponents to exploit. Things need to change.