Professional Soccer

Chicago Fire Fall 1-0 Against Orlando City SC


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Thumbnail Photo is Courtesy of the Chicago Fire

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Bryan Rochez’s 86th-minute goal proved the difference as playoff-chasing Orlando City SC produced a classic snatch-and-grab act to beat the Chicago Fire 1-0 on Saturday night, and leave the hosts marooned at the foot of the Eastern Conference table.

In the fourth meeting between these two in Orlando’s debut season, Adrian Heath’s men withstood all that the Fire could throw at them before coming up with a devastating move four minutes from time to seal the victory and prompt a chorus of boos from the Toyota Park stands at the final whistle.

The win keeps the Lions (9-13-8) within striking distance of the East’s sixth and final playoff spot, while Frank Yallop’s Fire (7-16-6, 27 points) are nine points adrift of the sixth-placed Montreal Impact.

The first chance of note fell to the home side in the seventh minute, when Joevin Jones broke down the left and crossed invitingly for Patrick Nyarko, but he failed to connect with conviction.

David Mateos should have done better with a back-post header in the 12th minute following a deep free kick inside the Fire six-yard box, and goalkeeper Jon Busch — deputizing for an injured Sean Johnson — saved comfortably.

The home fans inside a nearly-full Toyota Park breathed a huge sigh of relief in the 18th minute when Cyle Larin muscled Daneil Cyrus off the ball inside the box and squared for Carlos Rivas, but his first-time shot came thundering back off the bar from 10 yards.

Rivas and David Accam then exchanged shots before Michael Stephens’ whipped cross from the right picked out Kennedy Igboananike, but his goalbound header was saved before being called back for offside in the 34th minute.

Harry Shipp then brought a good save from Tally Hall four minutes later when he controlled a clearance on his chest and unleashed a swerving half-volley towards goal.

Shipp was again involved in the first action of the second half when he created space for himself and released Igboananike in the 51st minute. But his cross/shot fizzed dangerously across the goalmouth and deflected behind for a corner.

Ten minutes later the lively Accam raced clear down the left before centering for Razvan Cocis, but his shot was pushed behind by Hall. From the resulting corner, Cocis again found himself in a good position at the near post, but his header from Igboananike’s pullback was saved by Hall.

Although it was pretty much one-way traffic towards the Orlando goal, the visitors were still a threat on the counter, and Larin missed a good opportunity to add to his team-leading 11 goals when he shot tamely at Busch in the 66th minute and drilled another shot narrowly wide two minutes later.

Busch came up trumps for the hosts in the 74th minute when he produced a point-blank save from Larin, while Orlando substitute Brek Shea tried his luck from distance in the 81st minute.

Five minutes later, OCSC broke through for the only goal of the game, with all three substitutes combining to carve the Fire defense open.

Firstly, Shea worked his way in from the right and found Darwin Ceren in a central position in the six-yard box. His first touch was pounced on by Rochez, who made no mistake to place the ball beyond a helpless Busch to seal a vital three points for the visitors.

Next up for the Fire is Wednesday’s trip to the Montreal Impact, while Orlando hit the road to visit the New York Red Bulls on Friday.

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