The Chicago Fire have finally picked up their first win of the 2021 season as they beat Inter Miami 1-0 at Soldier Field.
Far from the most exciting contest, the hosts pretty much dominated throughout. They finally made the most of their advantage midway through the second half, as a free-kick from Luka Stojanović somehow got past the keeper before finding the back of the net.
It was enough to get the job done for Chicago, who will now look to build upon this performance going into the summer.
Story of the match
The Fire had a big chance early on. A cross from Robert Berić was hit towards an open Przemysław Frankowski, but he just couldn’t get on end of it.
Chicago then had the ball in the back of the opposing net, as Brian Gutiérrez settled a high ball before rifling a volley past a helpless John McCarthy from close range. However, the goal would not stand, as the referee blew his whistle to call a handball on the player before he got his shot off. No one was complaining since the call was clearly the correct one, to be fair.
The home side kept pushing forward, and they created another decent opportunity for themselves in the process. A quality first touch from Frankowski in the area put him into space in the final third, but he couldn’t stay composed, skying his shot as a result.
The second half started the same way the first half did. The Fire continued to attack and create chances, with Berić being denied by McCarthy before Álvaro Medrán’s free-kick attempt flew just over the bar.
Chicago would finally get their goal in the 69th minute, although it did come in very fortunate circumstances. Luka Stojanović made solid contact on a free-kick attempt, but it was bouncing tamely toward the bottom corner. However, McCarty made a mess of the situation, and the ball somehow went over him and into the back of the net.
That seemed to finally wake up Miami, who came within inches of equalizing just moments later when a header went just wide of the target.
However, they ended the contest with a whimper instead of a bang, and the Fire were able to secure the win and the clean sheet with relative ease as a result.
The Fire deserve credit for being the better team and for getting the win on the day, of course, but their job was made a lot easier due to Miami’s absolutely woeful performance.
They just never got going. Slow to start and slow to end, Inter looked like they had no idea what they were doing. The midfield was nonexistent, which led to the forwards getting almost no service. Things weren’t much better defensively, as Chicago’s wastefulness was the main reason why the game was still close. The fact that the lone goal of the game came from a goalkeeping error demonstrates how Inter's disasterclass was a true team effort.
This showing will be especially disappointing for Miami considering their run of form going into the contest, as they seemed like they had turned a corner and were finally making the most of their talent. However, playing this poorly against one of the league’s weaker sides will remind the club that it still has a ways to go before it can be considered a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference.
It will be interesting to see how they respond, but another performance like this in Inter’s next game will almost certainly lead to another loss.
Man of the match - Luka Stojanović
Everyone did their part for the Fire, so it’s hard to figure out who exactly was the man of the match. Defensively solid while also constantly threatening on the attack, the only thing that let Chicago down was their inability to finish in the final third.
With that in mind, the honors will go to the matchwinner, Luka Stojanović. Coming off the bench to make the difference, his free-kick was what ultimately secured the win for the Fire, even if it only really came via atrocious goalkeeping. He also helped bring energy to the midfield, to be fair, which allowed his side to keep pressing forward.
Stojanović has made a good start to the campaign, and his return from injury has given Chicago another option to turn to when need be. If he can keep playing like this, then he won’t be coming off the bench for much longer.