Photo by Jeff Vorva
The Fire’s Gilberto, right, tries to get around Philadelphia’s Keegan Rosenberry during one of several snowy moments in Saturday’s 1-0 Fire victory.
To be sure, Philadelphia’s Warren Creavalle getting thrown out of the game in the second minute of the second half and the Chicago’s Fire Kennedy Igboananike’s goal four minutes later were the keys to the Fire’s 1-0 victory over the Union.
But another factor that the Fire had to face was the sometimes snowy, sometimes sunny and always windy conditions at Toyota Park in Bridgeview on Saturday afternoon. The weather was worse in the first half and the Fire had to also survive a blizzard of shots (12, including a pair of C.J. Sapong attempts that hit the crossbar and post) and still came away with a 0-0 draw.
That was the third element of the game that brought a pro soccer victory to the south suburbs. If the Fire defense didn’t keep the Union off the board, it would have likely been another afternoon without collecting three points.
Goalie Matt Lampson, who racked up his second straight shutout, said it wasn’t easy for him or the defense as the Fire improved to 1-1-2 and earned its first win in the Veljko Paunovic era in front of an announced crowd of 12,073.
“It was probably the harshest conditions I’ve ever played in,” Lampson said. “It was very difficult for both teams so it’s a testament to our guys came out with three points in conditions like that. I’m incredibly proud of our team. Every single guy played his heart out. I think we deserved three points today.
“That first half, honestly, was absolutely brutal. We needed to get out of that half without conceding and that’s exactly what we did. In soccer, luck always has something to do with it. Whether it hits the post or not doesn’t matter. We came out with the result that we wanted. We were resilient. We suffered through and got out of it the way we wanted to.’’
Philadelphia game into the game with a 2-1-0 mark and tied for first with Montreal in the Eastern Division of Major League Soccer.
“This win means a lot for me and everyone in the lockerroom,” Paunovic said. “We will have more confidence now and that’s very, very important. We beat a very good team. This win helps us to grow.’’
The team played its second straight game without leading scorer David Accam and after managing just three shots in the first half, the Fire took advantage of the 11-on-10 situation that Creavalle’s red card provided and had seven second-half shots including Igboananike’s second goal of the season (Michael Harrington assisted) to tie Accam for the team lead.
“To play in this weather was difficult – you never knew what you were going to get,” Igboananike said. “You have to be mentally strong to play through that and we did that and picked up a win.’’
CHICAGO FIRE AT NEW YORK CITY FC
WHEN: 6 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Yankee Stadium, New York
FIRE RECORD: 1-1-2
NYC RECORD: 1-1-2
LAST TIME: NYC opened the 2016 season with a 4-3 victory over the Fire on March 6 at Toyota Park. Both teams combined for 37 shots. Mix Diskerud scored what turned out to be the winning goal in the second half for NYC.
Fire looks to regain its honor
The Chicago Fire won its first game since Oct. 5 when it beat Philadelphia, 1-0, on Monday – a streak of five games.
The next challenge is to win on the road.
The Fire visits the New York City Football Club Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Chicago has not won a road game since topping New England, 1-0, on July 12, 2014 -- a streak of 26 games.
The Fire has gone 0-18-8 in that span.
The Fire has one more reason to want to win. Its 4-3 loss to NYC to open the season at Toyota Park is still stinging.
“We had our honor hurt,” first-year coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We feel like we have some payback. There is something special about this game.’’
The coach said earlier this week midfielder David Accam is in the “final phase of recovery” from an injured left knee but is not sure if he will be able to play against New York. Accam missed the past two games.
Fire General Manager Nelson Rodriguez said two new international players will be heading to the team in May during the team’s Saturday morning Chicago Fire Weekly radio show. He wouldn’t give out names but said one player is a midfielder.
"We won’t make that announcement for another week-to-10 days and that’s at the request of the team from whom the player is coming, which is involved in some important matches. It’s a central midfielder who we believe will complement our existing group and give us a little bit more size in there,” Rodriguez said.
The Fire Confidential website speculates the players will be Senegalese midfielder Khaly Thian (who plays for MTK Budapest) and Dutch striker Michael De Leeuw (who is playing for FC Groningen).
Showing some style
The Fire Soccer Club hosts the fourth annual Soccer & Style fashion show atROOF on theWit (201 North State Street, 27th Floor,) from 6 to 8 p.m. May 5.
Fire players will walk the runway in this season's hottest looks provided by Banana Republic. Tickets start at $50 and includes entry into the event and two drink tickets. VIP ticketsare$75 and include event entry, three drink tickets and a commemorative gift.
All proceeds from the event benefit the Chicago Fire Foundation. In 2015, the fashion show raised over $11,000.
The models scheduled to appear are Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic, goalkeeper Patrick McLain, defenders Jonathan Campbell, Eric Gehrig, Michael Harrington, Joao Meira and Brandon Vincent, and midfielders David Accam, Arturo Alvarez, Joey Calistri, Razvan Cocis, John Goossens, Matt Polster and Michael Stephens.
For tickets, visit Eventbrite.com