Coach Veljko Paunovic had urged his team to get one final home win for the fans to close out the 2016 Chicago Fire home schedule.
He got his wish.
The Fire came roaring out of the gates with an early goal from Michael de Leeuw, but needed a David Accam goal in the 80th minute to secure a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution on Sunday.
"I know it was a hard season for everyone, but at least we could grant them this good win," Paunovic said.
De Leeuw got things to started early with a goal similar to all of his other goals with the Fire (7-16-10, 31 points). The 30-year-old Dutch forward scored on a first-touch shot from inside the 6-yard box after a low cross from Brandon Vincent in the ninth minute.
New England (10-14-9, 39 points) tied things up when Diego Fagundez cleaned up some scraps by running onto a loose ball and tucking it past Sean Johnson just before halftime.
The second half got a bit weird with red cards for both teams. First, Fire forward Luis Solignac intentionally tripped London Woodberry in the 54th minute and was sent off. His suspension for the final regular season match at Toronto means Solignac’s season is done.
Then, nearly 20 minutes later New England goalkeeper Brad Knighton was given a red card. David Accam surprised Knighton after he went to kick a ball upfield. Knighton then tackled Accam in an effort to regain possession.
Accam would later get the game-winner when he ran down a Jonathan Campbell longball and converted the breakaway.
"The fans deserve much more than what we have given them this season," Accam said. "Today it was all about the fans, about us giving everything we have on the pitch for the fans. I think that’s what we showed today. We went to win it for the fans and we did that.”
Winning for the fans was the theme after the match. Paunovic and the players talked candidly about how disappointing the season has been. Ending the home portion of the schedule on a high note was something to give back to the fans who have endured a sixth year out of seven with no playoffs.
"To be completely honest with you it hasn’t been a great season from the standpoint of results so I think to come here and finish our last game here on a positive note and give the fans something is good," midfielder Matt Polster said.
“I think it means a lot," de Leeuw said. "We all knew how the season went and we just wanted to give something to the fans."
The loss virtually eliminated New England from playoff contention, barring the Revolution making up a 13 goal differential on Philadelphia in the final week. The Fire had lost all three previous meetings with the Revolution this season, including a U.S. Open Cup semifinal in August.
The win ensured the Fire will improve upon last season's point total. The 2015 Fire finished with 30 points, the worst in the history of the club. At 31 points, this year's group has barely passed that with one game left. The Fire also still have a chance to move out of last place. The win moved the Fire within two points of Houston.
The Fire close out the season next Sunday at Toronto.