Following a late draw against the Montreal Impact a week ago, the Chicago Fire made sure to earn all three points on Saturday with a win over an Eastern Conference contender.
The Fire took down the visiting Columbus Crew, 1-0, on Saturday afternoon at Toyota Park, earning the club’s second win and seventh point of the season.
Veljko Paunovic’s side received a 22nd minute match-winner from striker Nemanja Nikolic to earn all three points at home. However, the visitors started off strong with Ola Kamara seeing his 12th minute effort saved by Jorge Bava.
Nikolic’s 14th-minute header forced a good save from Crew keeper Zack Steffen before the Hungarian striker put the Fire ahead just eight minutes later. Dax McCarty played an excellent through ball, which Nikolic stroked home for what turned out to be the game’s loen goal.
David Accam’s right-footed effort in the 28th-minute forced another good save from Steffen, while Nikolic saw his 38th-minute effort saved in the center of the goal by Steffen.
Following the halftime break, the Fire looked just as dominant in the second-half with Accam and Bastian Schweinsteiger just missing on efforts. Crew substitute Niko Hansen saw his 70th-minute effort saved by Bava in the bottom-left corner which kept the score at 1-0.
Adam Jahn came closest to earning the Crew a late point in stoppage-time but saw his left-footed effort saved by Bava. At the final whistle, the Chicago Fire held on for their second victory of the season, both at Toyota Park.
The Crew (3-1-2) see their three-match winning streak snapped and will look to get back to winning ways against Toronto FC next Saturday. The Fire (2-2-1) host the New England Revolution next Saturday in their final match of a three-match homestand.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Nemanja Nikolic deserves man of the match honors for netting the winner on Saturday. The 29-year-old was able to slot home the only goal of the match, but also force some other good saves from Zack Steffen.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Anytime you can hang onto a 1-0 lead for three points is crucial, and Jorge Bava came up big to stop Adam Jahn late on Saturday. The 35-year-old Uruguayan proved to Paunovic that he can still produce some big-time saves in the dying moments of a match.
MATCH TO FORGET
Midfielder Ethan Finlay was a definite non-factor for Columbus on Saturday, and was taken off after 79 minutes. Without Federico Higuain out, Finlay and fellow attacker Justin Meram saw their roles increase for the Crew in their build-up play. Finlay finished the match with just 16 completed passes, the second-fewest out of any Crew starter.