There’s a scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where a man from the church drags a cart through a seemingly plague-ridden village asking for townsfolk to bring out their dead, presumably to be burned to prevent spread. A gentleman brings out an old man over his shoulder and throws him on the pile of bodies, except for one problem. He’s not dead.
And neither are the Chicago Fire.
Their 3-1 win over Inter Miami at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview kept the lights on for the moment on their playoff hopes. It was a reminder that this team is capable of playing some truly wonderful football. It’s also a reminder of the missed opportunities from the last week. Surely if they came out with this energy and verve, they could have taken more than two points on the road against New England and Columbus.
The Fire started strong, having the ball for 60 percent of the time in the first half. That advantage alongside some strong movement would lead to a bunch of chances in the first half. Boris Sekulic had a shot from a tight angle deflect off the crossbar and back out, and there were a few good chances from outside the box as well.
The Breakthrough came in the 40th minute. While Chris Mueller and Xherdan Shaquri occupied the same space in the center circle, they did not get in each other’s way as Shaq took a slightly errant touch off of Mueller’s foot and found Brian Gutierrez in space. Guti would feed an overlapping Boris Sekulic. Boris would send a cross in that was deflected slightly, but all the deflection did was give the ball more hangtime so Jhon Duran could get his head to it and bury it into the top corner to send the Fire down the tunnel with the halftime lead.
The Fire would continue with business as usual in the second half— continuing to dominate Inter all over the park, despite a small bit of possession for The Herons. They were rewarded with a second goal in the 63rd. Brian Gutierrez found himself on the right side one on one. He nutmegged his defender with a pass to Mauricio Pineda, who put in a cross at the endline. The ball found its way to Xherdan Shaqiri who put in a finish worthy of a designated player on the half volley. Just like that, it was 2-0.
Miami would get one back on a penalty. Fede Navarro ran into the back of Alejandro Pozuelo who went down and the referee pointed to the spot. Gonzalo Higuain sent Gaga Slonina the wrong way and all of a sudden, Inter were back in the game.
But the Fire would put it to bed in the 86th. An aggressive step by Miguel Navarro had the Fire off on a counter-attack. The ball ended up on the foot of Jhon Duran who beat all the defenders and the goalkeeper from midfield to put the Fire up 3-1 and basically end the game.
The Fire are still technically not dead. They’re 6 points back of the Crew, who have the final playoff spot. It’s extremely unlikely they’ll get there. But they’re still fighting and are now unbeaten in their last three after losing three in a row to the top teams in the east. That’s more then we can say in years previous. All they can do now is win their last four games. And after that, who knows? It is MLS after all.
The Chicago Fire next play on Tuesday in Canada against Montreal