Chicago opened the scoring early in the second half through Rodolfo Sulia before Colin Stripling equalized for Stumptown. Just as it seemed like the contest was set to end in a draw, Wojciech Wójcik managed to find the back of the net late on to secure the win and all three points for the House.
Story of the match
Stumptown thought they had opened the scoring when Yuki Shibata converted from close range. However, the goal would not stand since the ball went out of bounds during the build-up.
Chicago probably should have gone in front a little later on after Derek Huffman was played in behind. The goalkeeper was in no man’s land, so the forward decided to have a go from range, but his tame effort was easily saved by Kevin Gonzalez.
They came close once again when a corner fell to Wojciech Wójcik. He settled the ball well, and it looked like his volley flew into the back of the net at first glance, but it turns out he hit the outside of the side netting instead.
The balance of the contest continued to swing as the away side then nearly took the lead. A poor turnover at the back from Rodolfo Sulia put his team under pressure, and it led to a cross from Ismael Longo that picked out Colin Stripling. His header was a good one, but the save from Michael Novotny was better since he managed to tip the ball over the crossbar.
Longo tried doing a flip-flap to get past a defender, and it almost worked. Gotta respect the attempt, at least.
The rest of the first half wasn’t an absolute bore, but neither side were able to create a clear cut chance before the break.
That changed after the interval. Novotny was forced into two big saves in the first few moments, denying Robert Hines’ first-time strike before then dealing with the resulting rebound as well.
Those saves proved to be huge as Chicago opened the scoring soon after. A lovely short corner routine led to a dream ball to the back post, and Sulia was on-hand to head home from just a few yards out.
Stumptown slowly worked their way back into the contest, and they came inches away from equalizing just past the hour mark. A low cross made its way across goal before eventually finding Shibata, but his sliding effort was blocked by the post.
They would eventually tie things up with about ten minutes left to go. Coming via another wonderful cross, Jared Odenbeck’s ball flew right to the head of Stripling, and he was able to easily redirect it past the goalkeeper and in.
The scores wouldn’t stay that way for long, though. Chicago restored their advantage in the final few moments after a loose ball in the area fell to the feet of Wojciech Wójcik, who rifled home with an instinctive finish to put his side in front once again.
That proved to be the final highlight of an admittedly hectic contest.
Something was up with the SeatGeek Stadium grass on the night. It looked worn out, and players slipped on the surface on a number of occasions as a result. That was a bit of a shame since Chicago probably has the best field conditions in the league.
It was absolutely freezing as well, although that may have actually helped the players a bit. Everyone seemed a little extra eager when it came to running into challenges, and it’s very likely that they just wanted to make sure they were staying warm.
This was a tough game for Chicago’s fullbacks. Seemingly beaten on a number of occasions, the opposition kept finding space out wide, which led to plenty of dangerous crosses into the area. The pair were bailed out by their centerbacks, their goalkeeper, and even the woodwork, but it wasn’t too surprising to see the one goal they did give up come via a cross.
Fair play to Andrew Ribeiro, who came in for the suspended David Abidor and put in a solid shift. He’s rotated in and out of the lineup this season, but he showed up and did what he needed to when it mattered.
Man of the match - Wojciech Wójcik
All things considered, he didn’t really do much on the night. He didn’t get a lot of service, to be fair, but he also failed to get involved in the team’s build-up play. The striker was an invisible figure for most of the contest, and it looked like it was going to be a rough day at the office for him.
That all changed in the blink of an eye. With just a few minutes left to go, Wójcik pounced on a loose ball in the box, quickly slamming a shot into the bottom corner past a helpless goalkeeper. Just like that, he had won Chicago the game.
He’s had a quietly stellar season, and the House will now hope that he can carry his good form into the next campaign.