BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Chicago Fire continued their creep up the Eastern Conference standings on Saturday, beating the Montreal Impact 3-1 at Toyota Park to move within one point of first-place Sporting Kansas City.
Three midseason acquisitions – Alex, Sherjill MacDonald and Álvaro Fernández – found the back of the net for the revamped Fire offense as Chicago won for the sixth time in their past seven matches.
After a two-week break, the story remained the same for the Impact, whose once-promising hopes for a playoff berth have become slim. Montreal fell for the second straight match after jumping to an early lead on a goal from Marco Di Vaio.
Hassoun Camara looked like he had given Montreal the lead in the fourth minute, but his sliding goal on a scramble in the box was called back for a foul on Sean Johnson.
Di Vaio gave the Impact the lead when he settled a beautfil lead pass of a header rom Camara, beat Arne Friedrich and placed his shot in the lower corner.
The Fire began to press as the half wore on, and Jalil Anibaba’s cross found Sherjill MacDonald, who flicked a header to the lower corner to tie the game.
Chris Rolfe almost scored a minute later, but his shot from outside the penalty area was knocked away by a diving Troy Perkins.
In the 61st minute, Fernández found Alex – starting in place of injured Pável Pardo – with a pass into the penalty area, and the Brazilian gave the home team the lead by beating Perkins to the upper corner.
Eleven minutes from time, Fernández put the game out of reach when he settled a cross from Dan Gargan and beat Perkins with a shot to the lower corner.
With the win, Chicagp improve to 15-8-5. They'll try to cement their playoff spot next week when sixth-place Columbus, who trail Chicago by eight points, visit Toyota Park on Sept. 22.
Montreal, meanwhile, fall to 12-15-3. Clinging to dim playoff dreams, they host Sporting Kansas City on Sept. 22. The Impact now sit five points behind D.C. United for the fifth and final playoff spot out of the Eastern Conference.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Álvaro Fernández||Easily Flaco's best game in Chicago, getting goal, assist and in general excellent on both ends.|
|2||Alex||Brazilian was excellent in place of injured Pardo, pulling strings, creating space, adding golazo.|
|3||Jalil Anibaba||Second-year defender was a menace at right back, provided pretty cross for MacDonald's goal.|