Two unlikely things happened when the Chicago Fire visited the New York Red Bulls Saturday night in Harrison, NJ: striker Robert Berić, who had been ice cold, scored a goal, and the Fire held on to win the team’s first road match in 692 days.
“Obviously, it feels really good to have an (away) win,” Fire coach Raphael Wicky admitted after the match. “One-and-a-half years almost, or so many games, is a long time. We (have) had, for sure, prettier games on the road. We (have) had, for sure, games where we played much better football, where we created way more chances.
“But this was just a great team fight and the team showed a great mentality and spirit and I think it was very hard to break down and that’s why it’s a deserved win.”
Berić’s goal came in the 32nd minute, after a long throw in by Carlos Terán bounced around the box and landed at his feet. His goal was initially ruled offside, but after a VAR review, referee Victor Rivas overturned the call due to the deflection prior to Berić’s shot.
For Berić, who had just two goals all season coming into the match, the goal had to be a giant relief.
“I think I needed a goal, the same like we needed a win away,” Berić said. “We are really happy and it’s a relief, finally, for me and the team that we succeeded; me to score and finally to win away, and yeah, let’s work hard and let’s try to keep this momentum going.”
The win lifts the Fire to 10th in the MLS Eastern Conference, seven points out of the final playoff spot, currently occupied by D.C. United. There are 12 matches to go—eight on the road, and four at home. Thirty-six points are left on the table.
Making the playoffs will be an uphill climb, for sure. But it’s still possible.
“We take it game by game to be honest,” Fire defender Jonathan Bornstein said. “You know, we obviously — our goal is to make the playoffs and how do we do that? Winning game by game. Next game, we have a little bit of a break before we can work on a lot of things in training, and prepare ourselves for the next game.
“Obviously these three big points help us to get to where we want to get. But I think the mentality is take it game by game, and we’ve got to be gaining points and closing that gap to get to the playoff picture. There’s enough points out there for us to accomplish that goal, and so that’s kind of what we have in the back of our minds and that’s how we prepare ourselves for each weekend or each game.”
The Fire have a couple weeks off, before heading to Kansas to face Sporting Kansas City on September 11 (7:30 p.m. CT, WGN-TV, CFFC Live).
- Francisco Calvo did not start, which Wicky called a tactical decision. Jonathan Bornstein started and captained the side in his place.
- Brian Gutierrez got his fifth professional start, and his first since June 19.
Chicago Fire FC: GK Shuttleworth, D Terán, D Pineda, D Bornstein ©, M Sekulić, M Herbers, M Giménez, M Stojanović (M Medrán, 83’), M Navarro, M Gutiérrez (Offor 59’), F Berić (F Collier 83’)
Subs not used: GK G. Slonina, D Kappelhof, D Omsberg, D Espinoza, D Calvo, F Ivanov
New York Red Bulls: GK Coronel, D Gutman, D Nealis, D Reyes (D Tarek 77’), D Edwards (D Duncan 64’), M Tolkin, M Davis ©, M Clark (M Amaya 72’), M Klimala (M Royer 64’), M Carmona, F Fábio
Subs not used: GK Meara, D Egbo, M Fernandez, F Barlow, F Harper
Stats Summary: NY / CHIShots: 20 / 9Shots on Goal: 2 / 4Passing Accuracy: 73.5% / 65.1%Saves: 1 / 1Corners: 2 / 3Fouls: 13 / 11Offsides: 1 / 1Possession: 58.4% / 41.6%