Chicago Fire 3-1 Sporting Kansas City: Chicago wins ugly (again)
Photo via @ChicagoFire on Twitter

The Chicago Fire’s strong start to the 2022 season continued on Saturday afternoon as they defeated Sporting Kansas City 3-1 at Soldier Field. 

The contest took some time to get going, with a goal from Kacper Przybyłko being the only highlight of a quite boring first half. That changed following the break, as Chicago doubled their advantage through Xherdan Shaqiri before Roger Espinoza pulled one back for Kansas City. The Fire were able to finish the game off with a third goal before the day was done, though, as Przybyłko grabbed a second late on to seal all three points.

Story of the match

After a half hour of absolutely nothing, Chicago opened the scoring out of nowhere. A midfield turnover led to a counter, and Kacper Przybyłko decided to go for goal. Despite there being no real angle to shoot, he was able to find the back of the net as his strike went right through the legs of Tim Melia and in. It was effectively a goalkeeping error, to be fair.

The first half went by without any more highlights. It was just one of those games early on. 

Things took no time to get going in the second half, though. The Fire would get lucky once again, as they were awarded a very weak penalty. There was the smallest bit of contact, but it certainly looked like Mauricio Pineda dove to get the call. A spot-kick was given anyway, and Xherdan Shaqiri stepped up to convert from the spot with confidence and composure.

It was nearly 3-0 moments later. A low cross was blocked by Andreu Fontàs, but he almost redirected the ball into the back of his own net. Fortunately for him, the ball rolled wide instead.

Kansas City responded incredibly well to that near-mishap, halving the deficit shortly after. It was a well worked move, and it ended when a cross from Felipe Hernández picked out the late run of Roger Espinoza, who then slotted a first-time shot into the back of the net.

The intensity of the contest continued, with both sides having the ball in dangerous areas. In the end Chicago would be the ones who grabbed the next goal, wrapping up the result in the process. Brian Gutiérrez drove forward on the ball, dancing past a defender before laying it off to an unmarked Przybyłko. He just about did enough to finish from close range, as the ball snuck under Melia, who arguably could have done better.

That proved to be the last impactful moment of the contest.

Takeaways

It did not look like many people were at the game, which is not ideal for Chicago. After having an impressive attendance in the home opener, there was a pretty stark drop-off in terms of the crowd for this contest. The weather didn’t help, but that’s not a good enough reason for the dip in attendance.

The Fire did win, but man were they lucky to do so. As mentioned prior, the first two goals they scored on the afternoon came in fortuitous fashion, with one coming via a goalkeeping error and the other coming from a weak penalty kick. The third wasn’t great either, and on another day they could’ve finished the contest with a goose egg on the scoresheet. They were able to get the job done on this occasion, but if they keep playing like this then it’ll only be a matter of time until they lose.

Kansas City deserves credit for putting up a good fight. Without four key players on the road, no one was really expecting much from them. They made the contest a close one, even scoring a really nice goal early on in the second half. Unfortunately Sporting were let down by a rare disasterclass from Tim Melia and a tough refereeing decision, but they shouldn’t be too upset with their showing on the afternoon even though they did end up losing.

Man of the match - Kacper Przybyłko

It doesn’t take much to open the floodgates.

Kacper Przybyłko’s 2022 campaign had been a pretty bad one coming into this weekend, but he was able to turn things around with a brace that ultimately won his side the match. Neither goal was great, to be fair, as all he had to do was kick the ball towards the target each time.

However, a goal is a goal is a goal, and that’s especially true for strikers. Przybyłko’s two goals in this game should give him a huge confidence boost going into the future, and that could lead to a purple patch that sees him score many more this season.

Chicago will certainly hope that’s the case.

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