As the rain pummeled Toyota Park on Saturday night, the Fire produced a laudable home performance in front of a mettlesome crowd of 15,256.
Behind an upper-90 strike from Harry Shipp in the 13th minute, a Jeff Larentowicz penalty kick on the stroke of halftime and Kennedy Igboananike’s first Fire goal, the Men in Red cogently beat 10-man Montreal Impact, 3-0, to grab their fourth win of the season.
“From our side of things, a very good home win,” head coach Frank Yallop said in his post-match press conference. “It’s always good to get three points out of a game like this when we dominated the match. I thought we just did a good job of everything tonight — the spirit, the will to win."
The onslaught was catalyzed early on as David Accam’s speed set the tempo. The designated player took matters into his own hands and ran at a rickety Impact back four, forcing converted right back and captain Nigel Reo-Coker into a mistimed tackle and a third-minute yellow card from referee Allen Chapman to match it.
With Joevin Jones’s tenacious running from his left back position causing problems early on, the Trinidadian joined Kennedy Igboananike, Accam and Shipp in the attack as the Impact were left chasing shadows.
“I was going to throw a lifejacket over to the left side in the first half,” Yallop said. “It was really wet, and the water was spraying up (from the grass).
“I think JJ has been excellent. David is electric; he’s still got a little bit of an ankle problem and his hamstrings are a bit tight, that’s the reason I took him out to rest him for Wednesday. They’ve got a good combination between them."
The Fire, who did well to keep Montreal’s attack at bay, applied relentless pressure that eventually paid off. In the 13th minute, Igboananike stripped former Fire defender Bakary Soumare and threaded a ball into the path of an onrushing Shipp, who buried a left-footed effort into the upper-90 to give Yallop’s side a deserved advantage.
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In the 37th minute, the Impact were reduced to 10 men following a pair of late tackles from Impact midfielder Marco Donadel on Eric Gehrig and rookie Matt Polster, both of which were deemed bookable offenses.
The Impact’s defensive lapses were compounded a minute before halftime, with Soumare at fault once more. The Malian took Accam’s legs out in the penalty area, leaving Chapman no choice but to award a spot kick. Another cooly dispatched Larentowicz effort gave the Men in Red a favorable halftime lead.
After emerging from the break following a one-sided first half, the second half was a much more muffled affair as Frank Klopas’ outfit looked to quell the damage sustained in the opening 45 minutes.
That damage was only made worse as a knifing through ball from Razvan Cocis to a galloping Igboananike left the Nigerian through on goal with only ‘keeper Evan Bush to beat. A collected finish, however, put the icing on top of the cake on an impeccable home showing.
The victory moved the Fire up to eighth place in the Eastern Conference on 14 points, a vital step as the Men in Red turn the page and look forward to a midweek fixture against D.C. United.
Chicago Fire Starting XI (subs)
(4-2-3-1): Jon Busch; Eric Gehrig, Jeff Larentowicz (C), Adailton, Joevin Jones; Matt Polster (Guly do Prado, 80'), Razvan Cocis; Harry Shipp, Shaun Maloney, David Accam (Quincy Amarikwa, 66'); Kennedy Igboananike (Jason Johnson, 75').