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Weathered The Storm: Fire beat SKC 1-0

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The Chicago Fire outlasted a rain delay off the pitch and a storm of pressure on the pitch to get a massive 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City and move out of the Eastern Conference basement.

MLS: Sporting KC at Chicago Fire
Michael de Leeuw scored his first MLS goal and the Fire rode that momentum to secure a 1-0 win Wednesday against SKC.
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

After a nearly hour and a half storm delay, the Chicago Fire weathered the storm both on and off the pitch Wednesday to secure a massive 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City and extend the home unbeaten streak to seven.

The Fire rode out a 19th minute goal from Michael de Leeuw who scored his first goal in his first ever MLS start. But after that goal, it was anything but smooth sailing for the Men in Red.

The first half was a bit of adventure for Chicago. The game got off to an ominous start when it appeared Dom Dwyer converted a header for the first goal of the game less than five minutes in. Thankfully, the assistant referee ruled Dwyer mis-timed his run on the free kick and called him offside.

Let’s just say one could make an argument that was the incorrect the decision.

But the Fire didn’t let the near goal rattle them and tried to create some magic of their own early. Michael Harrington, starting at right back, made a nice run up the sideline on a give-and-go with Arturo Alvarez. Harrington had a clean look at a cross and nearly connected with Razvan Cocis streaking through the middle of the box but Sporting Kansas City managed to scramble and defend at the cross at the last minute.

Sporting Kansas City responded with a break of their own as Benny Feilhaber found Dwyer on the run. Dwyer looked to be in the clear but Joao Meira made a fantastic diving tackle from behind in the box to break up the chance.

It was in the 19th minute when the Fire finally broke through. Cocis made a sneaky run on a quick start free kick and dribbled the ball all the way up to the endine before passing back to the middle where De Leeuw had an easy tap in. Like the disallowed Dwyer goal, Kansas City had an argument that the quick start should not have been allowed as it sounded like two whistles were blown. But it counted all the same.

After the goal, the game got a bit chippy with both teams picking up yellow cards and Sporting Kansas City took over possession. By the end of the half, Sporting Kansas City had six shots compared to Chicago’s single attempt and had 64 percent possession compared to Chicago’s 35 percent.

It was Jacob Peterson who was an absolute monster all half for Sporting Kansas City, attempting three shots. In the 35th minute, he sent a shot high he would put on frame eight out of 10 times and followed that up 10 minutes later with a shot that went off the post to preserve the 1-0 Fire lead at the half.

Peterson picked it right back up in the second half, attempting a shot in the box as everyone scrambled, but Cocis was there to block the effort as he was so often on the night.

SKC would go on to dominate possession, ending with 67 percent and attempting 19 shots, only two of which were on goal. Ten attempts were off target and the aforementioned Cocis had a big part in the seven blocked shots. On the contrary, the Fire had three total shots, two of which were on target and one that went in, which is really what matters most.

Despite the suffocating pressure, the Fire had a brief reprieve starting around the 70th minute. In the 72nd minute, Accam nearly found Khaly Thiam on a corner kick but the ball just missed the foot of the sliding midfielder. Accam followed up two minutes later and nearly fed a perfect pass to John Goossens on the break in the box but it was defended at the last minute.

SKC had their most dangerous chances late in the contest. In the 80th minute, Sean Johnson made a diving save on a Brad Davis free kick from right outside the box. Dwyer then got a header on a corner kick, but it was again denied by a fantastic reaction save from the Milkman.

The last chance came in the 90th minute when Davis again stepped over a free kick right outside the box and missed his mark by mere inches. Both Davis free kicks were set up by Joao Meira fouls.

As with most Fire games, it wasn’t the prettiest 90 minutes. 45 minutes were pretty solid, the other 45 were kind of a nightmare. But the three points is huge for a team looking to build off the energy of the de Leeuw addition. Chicago now sits in 9TH PLACE in the Eastern Conference with 17 points and a 4-8-5 record.

Let’s see if they can really break the basement chains and get an incredibly difficult road win Saturday against what is sure to be a motivated FC Dallas team.