The Fire really should’ve beaten the Columbus Crew last Saturday.
They led 2-0 after the first 15 minutes and had chances to put the game out of reach and earn three points against one of the top teams in the league.
The best opportunity came in the 86th minute, when Elliot Collier sent in a low cross for Przemyslaw Frankowski, whose near-post shot was stopped by Crew goalkeeper Eloy Room. It was a good save, but Frankowski, who had most of the net to shoot at, shot the ball right at Room.
Two minutes later, Gyasi Zardes scored the equalizer. The disappointing result prolonged a worrisome pattern for the Fire: missed chances leading to dropped points. It’s a flaw they hope to fix Saturday, when they visit Orlando City FC (5-2-4, 19 points).
“I think finishing chances or finishing plays, it’s often details, it’s often concentration, it’s often, is it the last pass, is it the final cross, is it your actual finishing?” Fire coach Raphael Wicky said. “So it has to do a little bit with everything. There’s not one button you can press, and then it works. You have to keep working in training. . . . There’s no pressure, no opponent. You have to be focused and concentrate and try to score all of these chances you have in training.”
Whatever the Fire (2-6-3, nine points) are working on in training has to translate better to the field.
Entering Friday, they were 12th in the 14-team Eastern Conference. Ten East teams will reach the postseason in an expanded format, and the Fire missing out on the playoffs obviously would not signal on-field progress.
The dull finishing edge hasn’t been the only culprit this season, but it has played a part. Wicky knows it’s something the Fire must fix.
“You have to repeat things,’’ Wicky said. ‘‘You have to believe and stay positive. There’s a lot of things. But we create a lot, and we have to keep working in training. I think a positive attitude and belief that you can score and will score is very, very important. So it’s a mix of everything.”
Striker Robert Beric, whose first-half goal against the Crew ended a seven-game dry spell, pinpointed a related issue that has plagued the Fire all year.
“We didn’t make [big] mistakes,’’ Beric said, ‘‘and then it’s the second half, and we were not at our best. I think we have this problem that we cannot keep the concentration on something.
‘‘I don’t know exactly what to say on that, but we have to keep working on that, to be focused the whole 90 minutes. We cannot draw when we are ahead 2-0, you know? We just have to keep working on our focus, on our concentration.”