CHICAGO, Ill. – For the seventh time this season, the Chicago Fire (15-8-5; 50 pts.) responded from a deficit, using goals from Alex and Designated Players Alvaro Fernandez and Sherjill MacDonald to rally and defeat the Montreal Impact (12-15-3; 39 pts.) Saturday night at Toyota Park. With the victory, the Fire move to within one point of Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City (51 pts.) with six matches remaining in the MLS regular season. The Fire are 10-3-2 with 32 points since June 17, 2012.
Making their first-ever trip to Toyota Park, the visiting Impact came close first. Attacking the Fire in transition, midfielder Felipe laid off for Davy Arnaud on the right before his low cross picked out Marco Di Vaio but the Italian striker only got a chopping shot off, forcing Fire ‘keep Sean Johnson into an easy save in the ninth minute.
The Fire would respond three minutes later. Working up the right, Jalil Anibaba saw his cross deflected out to Alex. The Brazilian attacker took a touch before unleashing a powerful effort that forced Impact ‘keeper Troy Perkins into a diving stop.
Following the chance, the visitors would slowly build up to the opening goal. First in the 15th minute when Rivas’ long ball out of the back was chested down by Nyassi before the Gambian international cut towards goal and let off a curling effort that Johnson was equal to.
Three minutes later a long build up out of the midfield saw Di Vaio post up and lay off for Felipe at the top of the box but the Brazilian attacker’s right-footed effort was well held by Johnson.
Montreal would finally breakthrough in the 20th minute when Rivas’ sent a long ball up the right to Hassoun Camara. The French defender sent a flicked-on header towards the box and into the path of Di Vaio, who worked through the Fire back line before firing low to Johnson’s right go give the Impact a 1-0 lead.
The Fire came close to equalizing in the 31st minute when Alex won a ball in the attacking end and played it back for Logan Pause. The Fire captain slotted for Alvaro Fernandez who belted a low shot just wide left of Troy Perkins goal.
Three minutes later, the Fire would find the equalizer. A long bit of possession resulted in Anibaba collecting the ball on the right before the second year defender crossed for Sherjill MacDonald who’s glancing header beat Perkins inside the back post. It was the Dutch striker’s second goal since joining the Men in Red in late July.
Montreal nearly went back up on a counter attack in the 36th minute. Di Vaio strolled up the middle before laying off for Patrice Bernier on the right, allowing the Canadian international to send in a whipping low ball that missed out by inches on connecting with a sliding Sanna Nyassi, taking the teams into halftime level at 1-1.
Both teams struggled for chances at the beginning of the second half, failing to connect with a shot on goal until the Fire found the go-ahead in the 61st minute. Playing with high pressure, Alex intercepted Alessandro Nesta’s pass out of the back before laying off for Fernandez. The Uruguayan international chipped forward for Alex, who chested down before entering the box and firing a beautiful left-footed effort to the top right corner to give the Fire a 2-1 lead.
The visitors looked to respond in the 73rd minute when Bernier put on a dribbling exhibition at the top of the box. Finally, the Canadian international directed an effort towards goal that Di Vaio redirected but Johnson kept the chance out before it was called back due to offside.
The Fire would put the game on ice seven minutes later. Substitute defender Dan Gargan pushed far up the right to find Chris Rolfe before the veteran forward centered a pass to an open Fernandez, leaving the Uruguayan international with a one-time effort that beat Perkins inside the near post in the 80th minute.
Before the end, the Impact tried to pull things back within one goal as Bernier penetrated through the middle before finding Di Vaio. The former Italian international found space before unleashing a low drive just wide of goal in the 87th minute, leaving the Fire with all three of the points on the night.
The Fire return to action when they host the Eastern Conference foes Columbus Crew at Toyota Park on Saturday, Sept. 2 at 7:30 p.m. CT live on NBC 5.2 and 97.5 FM ESPN Deportes. Tickets for the match are available at www.Chicago-Fire.com or by calling 888-MLS-FIRE.
- The victory marked the 200th regular season win in the club’s 15-year history.
- Only two teams in MLS have a better record than the Fire. San Jose is 17-6-5, 56 points and Sporting Kansas City is 15-7-6, 51 points.
- The win marks the seventh time this season the Fire have come back from a deficit to be victorious.
- The victory pushes the Men in Red to 15-8-5 (50 pts.) on the season, keeps the team in second place in the East and within one point of Conference leaders Sporting KC.
- The Fire are 8-0-1 when hosting Eastern Conference opponents at Toyota Park this season and 12-4-3 overall against the East in 2012.
- In a streak that has now reached 17 matches, the Men in Red have not lost to an Eastern Conference foe at Toyota Park since October 12, 2010, going 12-0-5 in that time.
- The Fire defense has now held its opposition to one goal or less in seven of its last eight matches.
- Midseason acquisitions Sherjill MacDonald, Alex and Alvaro Fernandez all tallied their second goal in a Fire shirt.
- Fernandez’s 80th minute strike was his second in as many matches after scoring in the 13th minute in Wednesday’s 2-1 victory at Toronto FC.
- Logging 90 minutes, Fire defender Gonzalo Segares became just the seventh player in club history to appear in 200 competitive matches. The others: C.J. Brown (372), Logan Pause (297), Zach Thornton (276), Chris Armas (272), Jesse Marsch (259) and Justin Mapp (208).
- With his yellow card in the 47th minute, defender Dan Gargan will miss out on next Saturday’s match against Columbus due to accumulation.
- Arne Friedrich left the match in the 41st minute as a precaution for neck tightness.
- Fire midfielder Pavel Pardo took the night off with hamstring tightness.
Chicago Fire 3 – 1 Montreal Impact
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich (Dan Gargan 41’), Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares; Patrick Nyarko, Logan Pause ©, Alex, Alvaro Fernandez (Wells Thompson 83’); Chris Rolfe, Sherjill MacDonald (Dominic Oduro 77’)
Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Hunter Jumper, Corben Bone, Michael Videira
Montreal Impact: Troy Perkins; Matteo Ferrari, Alessandro Nesta (Jeb Brovsky 81’), Nelson Rivas (Justin Mapp 65’), Hassoun Camara; Davy Arnaud ©, Patrice Bernier, Collen Warner (Andrew Wenger 73’), Felipe Martins; Sanna Nyassi, Marco Di Vaio
Substitutes not used: Evan Bush, Dennis Iapinchino, Lamar Neagle, Sinisa Ubiparipovic
MTL – Marci Di Vaio (Hassoun Camara) 20’
CHI – Sherjill MacDonald (Jalil Anibabas) 34’
CHI – Alex (Alvaro Fernandez) 61’
CHI – Alvaro Fernandez (Chris Rolfe, Dan Gargan) 80’
CHI – Dan Gargan (caution) 47’
Referee: Paul Ward
Assistants: Anthony Vasoli, Mark Cahen
Fourth Official: Michael Kennedy