The Chicago Fire had evened the match, had the momentum and Vancouver seemed shaky late in the second half.
Then Blas Perez scored what will end up as one of the goals of the season. Perez perfectly struck a bicycle kick in the 89th minute to give Vancouver a 2-1 win against the visiting Fire on Wednesday night.
After a lackluster first half in which Perez scored to give the Whitecaps (5-5-2, 17 points) a 1-0 halftime lead, Kennedy Igboananike had equalized with a shot that beat Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted at his near post. The Fire (1-3-4, 7 points) seemed rejuvenated with confidence and had the Whitecaps on the ropes.
The first half was probably one of the Fire's worst halves of the season. The Whitecaps had the lead, 65 percent of the possession and the Fire managed just two shots on goal.
Then Igboananike's goal in the 62nd minute sparked one of the Fire's better halves of the season. Igboananike used a series of step overs to get some separation from the defender and hit a low drive that beat Ousted at his near post. The Fire had extended stretches of possession in the second half and nearly scored another when Igboananike hit the post trying to beat Ousted on his near post again.
Perez's goal actually came against the run of play, but that won't matter on the final score. What could have gone down as a positive result on the road to build upon for the Fire became a crushing defeat thanks to one brilliant moment from Perez.
To open the scoring, Perez tapped in a Christian Bolanos cross from the right side. Bolanos got behind the Fire defender on the right wing after receiving a long ball. His low cross got all the way to Perez, who was behind goalkeeper Matt Lampson and defender Johan Kappelhof.
The first half came to a halt when Vancouver forward Masato Kudo and Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson collided going after a long ball in the Fire's penalty box. Lampson grabbed the ball, but the momentum of both players caused the collision. The medical staff on hand rushed to Kudo after he was bleeding from his mouth and was later determined to have a concussion. After a seven-minute delay, Kudo was sitting upright while being stretchered off and was taken to the hospital.
"I'm trying to stay high off my line and cover the space in behind," Lampson said during the halftime interview on the CSN+ broadcast. "Honestly, it's just unlucky. I'm going in and, I haven't seen it yet, I think his head just hit my shoulder. That's just part of the game. I'm sorry for Kudo and I wish him all the best. Obviously I'm not that type of player."
Update on Kudo. Suffered a concussion and also bit his lip and tongue. Still being examined at BC Place by doctors.— Marc Weber (@marcdweber) May 12, 2016
Perez subbed on to replace Kudo in the 19th minute.
Fire coach Veljko Paunovic went back to a five-defender lineup with Joao Meira making his first start since March 19 against Columbus. Joey Calistri also made his first professional start, joining Igboananike up top in place of Gilberto, and had a pair of shots on goal. Gilberto was limited in training last week with a hamstring injury so not playing may not be a long-term demotion, but rather a move to ease him back to full health.
Matt Polster, on his way back from a calf injury that forced him to miss the April 30 match against D.C. United, came on as a halftime substitute for Michael Stephens.
The Fire have now gone winless in 28 straight matches on the road, which is a league record. They can snap that losing streak on Saturday when they take on New England, one of two other teams in the league with more matches played than points.