BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire enjoyed a lead for less than 15 minutes against D.C. United on Thursday. Then in typical Fire fashion this season, Chicago allowed a second-half equalizer and played to a 1-1 draw in front of 15,818 at Toyota Park.
The Fire established an MLS record with their 15th draw of the season, surpassing the previous mark of 14 draws set by FC Dallas last season.
"It's not a record we're proud of," Fire defender Gonzalo Segares said. "We've had plenty of chances to win those games and be in a different position."
Fire midfielder Sebastian Grazzini gave Chicago a 1-0 lead in the 59th minute. But D.C.'s Josh Wolff netted an equalizer in the 73rd minute as the Fire tried to push up to get Wolff in an offside position.
Replays showed that Wolff was in fact offside, and Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas was not hesitant to point that out following the match.
"Unfortunately it comes down to an offside goal that the referees missed to tie the game," Klopas said. "... It's frustrating sometimes when you put so much into it. I've never said anything about the refs on a call like this that's been missed. It's disappointing."
The Fire dominated pretty much every phase of the match. Chicago in fact held D.C. without a shot attempt until Dwayne De Rosario's shot attempt in the 57th minute. The Fire had a 14-6 shots advantage and a 7-1 shots on goal advantage. Wolff's goal was United's only shot on goal.
Despite Grazzini's goal and his strong play on the pitch, Klopas took him out in the 72nd minute and inserted Daniel Paladini, who has not scored a goal this season. Klopas said he made that move because Grazzini was tiring.
"I wanted to push him more today, but he couldn't go," Klopas said. "He told me that he needed to come out."
However, Grazzini expressed a different sentiment afterward, stating that Klopas wanted him to rest up for Toronto FC this Sunday.
"Game after game I'm feeling better," Grazzini said. "I'm getting back in rhythm and I think I did better tonight, and the coach had told me he would take me out so I'll be available for the next match."
With the match even in the 86th minute, Klopas made two more subs, putting Orr Barouch in for Patrick Nyarko and Diego Chaves for Marco Pappa. Nyarko particularly had a strong match and created regular chances, and he was surprised that he did not go the whole way.
"I wanted to play through," Nyarko said. "Once the first 20 minutes passed in the second half, I thought I was going to go the full way. When I was being substituted, I didn't even realize it. I didn't think I was coming off. Logan [Pause] kept yelling at me to run [off the field]."
The major setback for Chicago was scoring leader Dominic Oduro, who had four strong chances to garner a goal -- three high-percentage opportunities in the first half, including a 14th-minute shot that hit the right post.
"I'm not really happy right now," Oduro said. "Those are chances that I should have put away. It's just an unfortunate part of the game. It happens. I just have to keep my head up. I should have done better."
Analysis: The missed opportunities are nothing new. Chicago has been doing this all season. What was surprising was the revelation that Grazzini was purposely being rested for Toronto.
For what purpose does that serve? The Fire's season is on the brink and they need maximum points the rest of the way.
It is clear-cut to everyone watching this Fire team -- Grazzini needs to be out there for a full-game contribution, or awfully close to a full match. The Fire do not have a midfielder who matches his repertoire.
Even if Klopas stands by his claim that Grazzini was tiring, wouldn't a Grazzini at 60 percent be more valuable than some of his other bench options?
Klopas' use of player personnel in this match was confusing, only adding to the frustration and struggles of this 2011 campaign.