2021 Major League Soccer, Regular Season

Nashville takes point from Chicago Fire as Eastern Conference foes settle for 0-0 draw

Chicago Fire FC goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina made four saves against a short-handed Nashville SC side, but the Fire struggled to generate chances and settled for a 0-0 draw on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.

Slonina's counterpart Joe Willis needed to make only three stops to post his and Nashville's 11th clean sheet of the season, with the visitors extending their second-place cushion in the Eastern Conference. With 45 points, Nashville is now 17 behind East leaders New England Revolution, who are the first team to clinch one of seven conference playoff spots.

Meanwhile, the Fire snapped a four-match losing streak but did little to revive their fading playoff chances in their second home game following a six-match road trip. Chicago is now 13 points out of the East playoff picture with seven matches to play and five teams to climb past after being held scoreless for the 12th time this season and fifth in the past seven games.

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Chicago led Nashville 8-5 in shots, but that was a deceptive stat given most were from unlikely scoring positions.

With Nashville tackling a stretch of five games in 16 days, manager Gary Smith rested Hany Mukhtar, who entered Sunday leading Nashville with 12 goals and nine assists. The 26-year-old began the game on the bench, but Smith appeared keen to give him the whole day off, opting for five other substitutes in the second half despite a clear chance at a second consecutive away victory.

One of those subs, Daniel Rios, had arguably the visitors' best chance when he reached a ball at the back post in the 74th minute and forced a decent reaction save from Slonina.

The Fire's best opportunity came 16 minutes later when Robert Beric played a give-and-go with Gaston Gimenez inside the penalty area before Willis smothered the shot at the near post. It was a familiar result for Beric, who led Chicago in 2020 with 12 goals but has only three in 27 appearances this season.