It could be too late, but the Fire might have found something.
The Fire wrapped their four-game homestand Wednesday with a 3-1 victory against Orlando City. Thanks to goals from Boris Sekulic, Robert Beric and Chinonso Offor, the Fire ended the four games 2-1-1, having scored three goals in three consecutive games.
“Awesome,” said goalie Bobby Shuttleworth, who made seven saves. “It’s been a boost of energy for sure. We knew that if we just kept the faith here and kept doing the right things and keep working hard in training, working hard on things that we’re working on, improving on things that we need to improve on, hopefully if we’re doing all those things, things will start to turn a little bit.”
That’s a far cry from where the Fire (3-7-2, 11 points) were not too long ago, when they had been blanked six times in seven games and had one of the least-potent attacks in the league. The change could be in part to a formation change by coach Raphael Wicky, using three centerbacks and two wingbacks, which has led to different results.
Sekulic knows the Fire must keep it going.
“We still have [22 games remaining] so we are far from a playoff spot,” said Sekulic, whose goal came right before halftime to even the game at 1. “We should be happy but calm.”
Wicky also downplayed the system change. Though the Fire have discovered a formation that seems to work, Wicky said it’s more about the mix of players and how they play together.
Their lineup Wednesday was the same as the one that beat Atlanta United 3-0 on Saturday. Not too long from now, the Fire will have captain Francisco Calvo back from international duty with Costa Rica, while Gaston Gimenez returned to the game-day roster Wednesday after the Paraguay national team was eliminated from Copa America.
Those two, plus the eventual debut of injured winger Stanislav Ivanov, will give the Fire more competition for spots.
“Sometimes you cannot put all your best players together on the field,” Wicky said. “You have to find the best mix. But that’s a good problem to have.”
A bad problem to have is a highly paid striker not scoring, but Beric connected for the first time since opening night, giving the Fire a 2-1 lead in the 72nd minute. Offor then clinched the game in second-half stoppage time.
“I’m happy for him,” Wicky said of Beric. “I guess he’s obviously relieved as well.”
NOTE: Both Mauricio Pineda (61st minute) and Ignacio Aliseda (66th) left with injuries, and the Fire will know more about their statuses Thursday.