QUEENS, NY – On an early penalty kick from Héber starting in place of Valentín Castellanos who was out on yellow card accumulation, NYCFC earned a Sunday night win over the Chicago Fire to mark the Pigeons’ sixth win in their last seven matchups.
NYCFC make it three wins in a row with a win over the Chicago Fire
VAR awards NYCFC an early penalty
Chicago would strike first as new signing Chris Mueller dribbled down the wing and flicked a pass to Boris Sekulić just inside the area at the 13-minute. With one touch and a floated cross, Sekulić would pick out Jhon Durán at the back post for a headed shot just missing the crossbar.
NYCFC would answer this in the 19-minute, earning their first of several dangerous corners throughout this game. With Maxi Moralez taking the corner, he’d manage a pass between Chicago’s defense to Santiago Rodríguez just barely above the penalty spot with a hard shot cleared off the line by Gastón Giménez.
Earning another corner off the goal-line clearance in the 20-minute, Moralez would aim for the back post this time and Héber. With a nod toward goal from the Brazillian, the ball would take a slight deflection from Chicago’s Miguel Navarro and bounce out for a third corner but was instantly met with appeals for a handball from an NYCFC contingent. Upon further review from VAR, the penalty was awarded by referee Fotis Bazakos confirmed a handball. Calmly slotting it beyond 18-year-old Chicago goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina, Héber would give NYCFC a 1-0 advantage entering the 23-minute.
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) May 22, 2022
The first half would be capped with two NYCFC opportunities starting in the 38-minute as Rodríguez dribbed and laid a pass off to Gabriel Pereira. Playing give-and-go with Héber, Pereira would work his way inside the box for a shot deflected by Chicago towards goal but pushed away by Slonina with a reaction save. The second would come in the 45-minute as Maxi Moralez sent Thiago Andrade on the fast break, one-on-one with Slonina. Taking a touch towards the goal, Andrade couldn’t find an angle and shot wide leaving the scoreline 1-0 at the half.
Chicago can’t find an answer; NYCFC make it three wins in a row
The second half’s first great chance would come from Moralez in the 64th minute who received the ball from Talles Magno while making a run towards the 18-yard box. With one touch, space, and some time, Moralez uncorked a shot from a distance that blasted off the crossbar and back in play before eventually being kicked out by Chicago.
The Fire would follow this in the 65-minute working some offesne of their own as Mueller dribbling through three NYCFC defenders somehow pushed a pass too Sekulić for a give-and-go. Receiving it back, Mueller played a low ball across the face of Sean Johnson’s net finding Kacper Przybylko. Przybylko hammed home the goal but was quickly ruled offside by Mueller on the touch pass from Sekulić.
Chicago would miss several strong opportunities from here on out including a headed chance from Przybylko put wide of the net in the 74-minute and an open shot from Jairo Torres outside the box in the 78-minute hit over the bar. NYCFC rounded out the match in the 80-minute as Thiago Andrade won the ball in midfield and began charging toward Chicago’s goal with attacking numbers. A swift flick to an oncoming Pereira and a nice dribble move would put the Pigeons in on goal but Pereira couldn’t challenge Slonina and placed a shot wide ending with a final score of 1-0.
Last Word: NYCFC keeps rolling while Chicago’s defensive inconsistencies remain
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 22, 2022
With a victory over the Fire at Citi Field, NYCFC picks up their third consecutive win and their sixth in the last seven matches only faulting in a draw with Sporting KC. Despite missing a key offensive player in Castellanos, NYCFC proved they could still earn a hard-fought three points even if the production in front of the goal wasn’t up to par. With Keaton Parks, Tayvon Gray, Magno, and Castellanos all having limited to no role in Sunday’s action the squad should be well-rested for Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup action against New England.
As for Chicago, they sit bottom of the East while bolstering the league’s most expensive player in Xherdan Shaqiri and multiple other talented products. They are not necessarily struggling offensively but more so failing to come away with the coveted win such as a recent 3-3 draw with NYRB or a 2-1 85-minute loss at home to Cincinnati. Head coach Ezra Hendrickson needs to find a way to sure up the Fire’s defense or wins may continue to elude their grasp.