It wasn’t the most exciting contest, but Chicago were able to do enough on the night to pull off the victory. Robert Berić broke the deadlock moments into the start of the second half, and then Federico Navarro grabbed his first goal for the club to all but secure the result. NYCFC fought back to some extent, but they couldn’t do much to turn things around.
The three points may not matter much for the Fire in terms of this season’s standings, but at the very least, fans were able to have fun for one night.
Story of the match
Chicago started the contest on the front foot, but they didn’t really do anything with their momentum early on.
The Fire had a great chance to open the scoring when a free-kick was whipped into an incredibly dangerous area. The ball picked out Jhon Espinoza, but he went for a ridiculous jumping scissor kick that didn’t work out at all, and the ball ended up just hitting him before rolling out of bounds.
NYCFC responded well, and they almost went 1-0 up in remarkable fashion. A cut-back found Maximiliano Moralez in the area, and he went for a first-time shot. He completely botched it, but that almost ended up working in his favor as the ball looped up and down towards the target. It didn’t come down enough, though, as it ultimately bounced off of the crossbar instead of going in.
Chicago then came close to taking the lead on two separate occasions in the matter of mere moments before the end of the half. First Robert Berić cut inside before dribbling past a challenge and unleashing a shot towards goal that rattled off of the crossbar. The ball then fell to Espinoza, and he decided to have a go as well, but his deflected effort was also denied by the bar.
The two teams may have gone into the break tied at 0-0, but that all changed moments into the start of the second half. It was a brilliant goal, to be fair, as Álvaro Medrán cleverly slipped through Berić with a pass from a free-kick before the striker buried the opportunity, slamming a low shot past Sean Johnson and into the back of the net.
Chicago doubled their advantage a little bit past the hour mark. It wasn’t nearly as pretty as the first goal, to be fair, as a strike from Federico Navarro deflected before slowly rolling through the goalkeeper’s legs. That didn’t matter to the hosts or the crowd in attendance, though.
The away side thought they had almost immediately pulled one back when Santiago Rodríguez headed home a corner that was flicked-on towards the back post, but the sideline official’s flag went up to call him offside and to rule the goal out.
NYCFC continued to pile on the pressure, and they almost halved the deficit with about 15 minutes to go. A cross wasn’t dealt with properly by Miguel Navarro, who accidentally headed the ball towards his own goal. Luckily for him, Gabriel Slonina was able to react quickly to make the save and bail out his defender.
They just couldn't find the back of the net by the end of the night, and Chicago held on to secure the win and all three points as a result.
Maybe the Fire should just keep playing in Bridgeview.
This is a really bad loss for NYCFC. They’re in the absolute thick of a playoff battle in the Eastern Conference, with only a few points separating a number of teams. Every result matters, especially if you want to secure some sort of home field advantage. With that in mind, New York losing to a team who has been woeful all year is not ideal for them, and they’ll need to rebound quickly if they want to reclaim one of the higher seeds.
Man of the match - Robert Berić
It is unfortunate that Robert Berić decided to have his best game of the season in a game that didn’t matter at all, but at least he did play well.
An active presence throughout, he certainly didn’t look like a striker who has struggled for almost the entirety of the campaign. He got on the ball time and time again, and he actually did things with it, either dribbling at defenders or finding his teammates with a pass.
Berić capped off his showing with a well-taken goal, as he settled a through ball quickly before slamming a shot into the back of the net from close range. It was clinical, and it showed the type of player he can be when he’s at his best.
He’ll still probably not return next year, but at least Fire fans can remember this showing from him if he does end up leaving.