BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – After two straight games without a goal, the Chicago Fire finally got a game-winner from an unlikely source on Saturday night against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Midfielder Pavel Pardo connected on a curling free kick in the 10th minute and the Fire held on after losing defender Arne Friedrich to his second yellow card early in the second half to snap a two-game winless streak with a 1-0 win over the Whitecaps.
The goal was Pardo’s first of the season and just his second since he made his debut last season for the Fire (9-6-4), who vaulted into a tie for third-place in the Eastern Conference with the New York Red Bulls.
The loss was the second in four days for Vancouver (8-6-6), who also fell to Toronto FC on Wednesday.
Darren Mattocks had a few chances in the match to put the Whitecaps on the board, including a 48th-minute shot that forced a save from Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson, but the Fire defense were able to bottle up the sensational rookie for most of the game.
And that was even more impressive after the Fire lost Friedrich in the 69th minute when he pushed as streaking Mattocks, who also bumped into center back Austin Berry and fell to the ground. Head referee Jose Carlos Rivero immediately produced a red card for Friedrich, who was issued his first yellow card just two minutes earlier.
Vancouver almost equalized in the 87th minute, when Young-Pyo Lee'’s cross found striker Eric Hassli’s head, but Johnson made a leaping save to keep the Fire ahead.
The Whitecaps return to action at home against the LA Galaxy on Wednesday, while the Fire face the Red Bulls on the road the same day.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Pavel Pardo||A rare game-winning goal and plenty of steady play in the midfield to help lift the Fire to a gutsy win.|
|2||Alex||A nice game from the newcomer, and it mattered. No Pappa, no Grazzini, no problem.|
|3||Austin Berry||Another solid night for the rookie, who is quietly becoming one of the steadiest guys on the field.|