Chicago Stumbles Before Saturday Showdown with New York (on NBC)

It had all the markings (trappings?) of a trap game: At home, against eighth-place Philadelphia—an 8-15-6 team already eliminated from playoff contention—and just three days before a big game on national television against New York, the team tied with the Fire in second place in the East.

The only pushback against all that was the fact Chicago were celebrating their 15h anniversary as a franchise, and club luminaries such as Chris ArmasCuauhtemoc Blanco, and Peter Nowak (yes, the ex-Philadelphia coach who’s currently embroiled in a lawsuit with the visiting club) would participate in a halftime ceremony.

They couldn’t screw the pooch on that occasion could they?

Yes, they could:

Sweet finishes by Jack McInerney and Gabriel Gomez, and a nifty one by Princeton alum Antoine Hoppenot on the third goal.

The loss leaves Chicago tied with New York on 53 points (with the same number of games played), but behind the Red Bulls in the goals-scored tiebreaker.

Sure, they were missing head coach Frank Klopas and left back Gonzalo Segares, both red-carded in the Fire’s last outing (a 2-0 loss to KC at Livestrong Sporting Park), but, as center back Arne Friedrich told the league website, “We forgot to defend.”

That’ll get you every time.

The Chicago–New York tilt kicks off at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC.

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