Chicago started the contest on the front foot, but they couldn’t make the most of any of their chances early on. That would cost them, as a quality finish from Romell Quioto and an own-goal from Carlos Terán proved to be enough for Montréal on the day.
Story of the match
The first chance of the game fell to Chicago. A set-piece was flicked on towards the backpost by Fabian Herbers to Mauricio Pineda, and he redirected a header on target. However, James Pantemis reacted quickly to get across and make the save from close range.
They came close again moments later when Luka Stojanović picked up the ball near the edge of the area and went for goal. His strike seemed destined for the top corner, but Pantemis was able to stretch out an arm and deny the effort.
The Fire kept up the pressure, and had two more great chances to open the scoring. Herbers had a shot blocked by his own teammate in the area, and then Pineda had a headed pass cleared away by a defender from only a few yards out.
Despite all that happened, the two team’s went into the break level at 0-0.
The deadlock would finally be broken near the hour mark, and it would be broken by Montréal. A wonderful give-and-go between Romell Quioto and Djordje Mihailovic put the former through on goal, and he made no mistake with the finish, slamming a shot into the back of the net.
Quioto nearly had a second courtesy of a well-worked counter attack. He received the ball in the area and turned quickly before getting a shot off, but his attempt was saved by Gabriel Slonina, who did well to get down.
Chicago thought they had equalized when Herbers picked out the top corner with an excellent strike, but the referee quickly ruled the goal off. The sideline official’s flag went up to signal for offside, and a brief VAR review confirmed the decision.
The home side put the game to bed with about ten minutes to go. A superb cross from Mathieu Choinière was curled into a very dangerous area, and although Carlos Terán tried to make a last-ditch clearance, he could only redirect the ball into the back of his own net.
Montréal had a third called back for offside, but it didn’t matter much as they ultimately held on to the win and all three points with relative ease.
Chicago has an absolute gem in Gabriel Slonina. The 17-year-old was given the nod in this contest, and he did well once again. He made a big stop on a 1v1, and there was nothing he could’ve done about the two goals he conceded. He might not be a starter next year, as another season on the bench could be the best thing for his development, but he certainly should be the man between the sticks in 2023.
This was one of the Fire’s better performances as of late, but the same issues that have haunted them all season were what did them in at the end of the day. They couldn’t convert any of the chances they created in the first half, and then some poor defending led to them conceding twice in the second half. Just like that, they were beaten.
Montréal were the winners this afternoon, but they shouldn’t be too happy with their showing. They looked sloppy defensively, and they took way too long to get going offensively. If they were playing against a better team then they probably would have lost. It was enough today, but it certainly won’t be enough in the playoffs, so the home side knows that they need to improve going forward.
Man of the match - Djordje Mihailovic
Chicago’s former chicken came home to roost.
Djordje Mihailovic grabbed yet another assist in this contest, bringing his tally up to 11 on the season. This one was especially nice, as he played a clever first-time pass with the outside of his boot to slip Romell Quioto in behind, who ultimately finished off the move.
His impact went a bit beyond the scoresheet as well. He got onto the ball on a number of occasions and tried to drive forward with it, usually drawing fouls in the process. It wasn’t his best game, but the 22-year-old still did enough to haunt his former side once again.
If Montréal wants to have any chance of making a run in the postseason, then they’ll need Mihailovic to keep playing at a high level. Luckily for them, he seems up for the task.