By Rusty Silber
BRIDGEVIEW — "Please don't ask me anything about ties."
Those were the first words from Fire head coach Frank Yallop after the team picked up its 13th draw of the season on Saturday night.
The Fire played to a 1-1 tie with the visiting Columbus Crew at Toyota Park. Mike Magee scored the lone Fire goal on a penalty kick, while Federico Higuain tallied the goal for the Crew.
"It was sort of a deja vu and frustrating," Yallop said. "Maybe we didn't play great. Maybe we could've gotten something out of the game. I'll say we're not quite ready to get over the hurdle of winning games and dominating play. But it will come, and we're working on stuff. We're building for the future."
The Fire extended their home unbeaten streak to seven games but saw their record go to 3-5-13 (22 points). The Crew, unbeaten in their last three games, now sit at 6-7-9 (27 points).
"I'm a little disappointed, and I thought we had enough to get the victory," Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter said. "We're not going to take anything away from Chicago. Second half, we came out with a lot more energy and we had more chances. We could've had the three points."
The Crew opened with an opportunity in the third minute. Ethan Finlay hit a short pass in the box, but the Fire's Grant Ward got to the ball and hit it over the goal line before the Crew's Waylon Francis had a shot at it.
The Fire made their first strong attempt in the 12th minute, when Quincy Amarikwa made a move inside the box and dropped a pass for Matt Watson. He tried to get a shot on goal, but it was saved by Columbus keeper Steve Clark.
On a Fire corner kick, Magee connected with Jeff Larentowicz, but he hit the header right at Clark in the 31st minute. Finally, Magee got the Fire on the board with a penalty kick in the 37th minute with a shot into the right corner for a 1-0 lead. Watson sent a pass to Grant Ward, who kicked the ball off Crew defender Tyson Wahl's right arm.
Columbus had its chance to tie in the 44th minute, when Waylon Francis sent a pass from the end line for Finlay, but the Fire's Patrick Ianni got a foot on it and cleared it out.
Columbus scored 44 seconds after the start of the second half as Higuain took a bouncing ball past three Fire players and placed it into the back of the net for a 1-1 tie.
"I thought we came out right off the bat," Crew midfielder Will Trapp said. "It's something that we kind of look at. It's not a pretty goal, but it's a goal for us. We did create a lot of chances, and (Sean) Johnson made some big time saves for them."
Another Crew challenge came when Adam Bedell fired a low shot through traffic up top, but Johnson cleared the ball with a leg save in the 53rd minute. Finlay had a clear one-time shot off a cross in the 62nd minute, and Johnson was on the spot for another big save.
"In the moment we were really pushing for the go ahead goal," Johnson said. "It's what the game needed for a goalkeeper to be alert in those situations. You don't want to switch off, because anything can happen. I 'm going to have to step up and make the saves."
The Fire fell inches away from getting the lead in the 74th minute. Amarikwa passed the ball over to Magee in the box, and Magee sent a shot rolling shot past the keeper missing the far post by inches. There was another opportunity in the 90th minute when substitute Razvan Cocis sent a shot over the crossbar from up top. Then again in the 93rd minute, Magee sent a low rolling ball across the middle from left side of the box, but Clark made the dive for the ball ahead of Cocis.
The Crew had one more near opportunity to take the game away a minute later when reserve forward Aaron Shoenfield tried to score on a header, but Johnson was there once more to secure the draw for the Fire.