By Daniela Calvo // @DanielaCalvo__
Saturday, April 21: 1-2 Win
Richard Sánchez; Kevin Ellis, Johan Kappelhof, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Grant Lillard, Brandon Vincent; Mo Adams, Dax McCarty ©; Elliot Collier (Alan Gordon 75’), Nemanja Nikolić (Jonathan Campbell 89’), Aleksandar Katai (Diego Campos 83’)
After a devastating loss at home, the Chicago Fire were looking to gain points against the New York Red Bulls. The odds were stacked against the Fire because, in the last 5 matches against the Red Bulls, the Fire lost 3 and drew 2. Plus, very few clubs have defeated the Red Bulls on their own turf.
But with help from goalkeeper, Richard Sanchez and a strong back line, and Aleksandar Katai, the Fire successfully gained 3 points. This victory was one for the books, it was important for building self-confidence and drive in a team which has been struggling to find their groove.
Fire coach, Veljko Paunović has been tinkering with the starting lineup. Given that the team has been struggling defensively and have 5 seasoned players on the injury list.
During the first half, the Fire was playing a defense that they did not press enough when gaining possession. Then on the 28th minute Katai missed a scoring opportunity that lead to two consecutive corner kicks.
After the second corner kick, the ball deflected onto Katai’s left boot, which is a contender for goal of the week, if not goal of the year. Shortly after Katai’s goal, Sanchez denied the Red Bulls not once, but twice in a single sequence. At the end of the half the Fire were up by one.
— Chicago Fire (@ChicagoFire) April 21, 2018
Throughout the second half, the Red Bulls were pressing the Fire, but Sanchez was there to stop them from scoring. In the 68th minute, Katai was on a 1 v 1 with Red Bull’s keeper, Luis Robels and was tipped inside the box, which earned the Fire a penalty. Nemanja Nikolić took the penalty and scored a second goal for the Fire and summed his goals to 5 for this 2018 season.
In the 70th minute a Red Bulls goal was annulled, but 10 minutes later New York’s, Bradley Wright-Phillips takes advantage of a loose ball and scores one for the Red Bulls. 4 minutes were added to stoppage time, which accelerated the game- but alas, the final whistle blew and the Fire won and earned 3 very important away points.
As the Fire beat the odds, in a very memorable way- Sanchez totaled 9 saves and has earned a spot in the MLS team of the week roster. Nikolić scored his 5th goal putting him 1 behind Atlanta United’s Joseph Martinez.
Mo Adams is the 5th player to make his MLS debut in the last 6 games. Up next, the Fire are headed to BMO Field to face defending MLS Cup champions, Toronto FC at 2:00 PM CST.
Armchair Analyst: Katai’s goal is gonna get all the pub, but the turning point came when Richard Sanchez denied #RBNY (and then denied ’em again), allowing #cf97 to preserve their lead. Kid had himself a game. pic.twitter.com/7EniOYfiAu
— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) April 22, 2018
Featured image of Sanchez courtesy: @SBISoccer
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