Bastian Schweinsteiger rescues the Chicago Fire’s playoff hopes

By Ernesto Hernandez

The Chicago Fire went into the game against the Montreal Impact six points back of seventh place and the last playoff spot. Every game is now a must win game until the end of the season if the Fire want to reach the postseason. It was not easy, but Veljko Paunovic’s team pulled out the win late thanks to Bastian Schweinsteiger.

The Men in Red came out to a fast start and in the 8th minute, Dax McCarty scored his first goal with the club after the aforementioned Schweinsteiger rescued a ball off a corner. The German then slid the ball to the center of the box where McCarty rifled the ball past the Montreal keeper.

Chicago doubled their lead ten minutes later when Nemanja Nikolic hit the back of the net for the eighth time this season following an interception from Francisco Calvo, who found Aleksandar Katai on the right. Katai then laid the ball off to an unmarked Nikolic who had an easy tap-in.

However, Montreal got back into the game thanks to a penalty committed by Kenneth Kronholm. Saphier Taider had no trouble converting and the lead was cut in half. Montreal took control after that but were unable to equalize. Halftime provided a bit of respite for the Fire as neither team were able to take control for a good chunk of the second half.

But through Bacary Sagna, Montreal found their equalizer, taking advantage of poor set-piece defending by the Fire. Once the goal went it, thoughts quickly went to “same old Fire.” Bastain Schweinsteiger, however, had other ideas.

In the dying minutes of regulation, Djordje Mihailovic sent in a cross from a corner which somehow found the German, who headed the ball into the net and gave his team newfound hope.

The Fire desperately needed a win like this. In the position they find themselves in, a win by any means necessary is the goal. Far too often this season we’ve seen this team blow a two-goal advantage and not have an answer. This time around, they were able to get a winning goal and keep their postseason aspirations alive.

This win undoubtedly boosts the morale in the locker room. Instead of going in there and lamenting another blown opportunity, the players and the coaching staff can talk about how they were resilient and never gave up. A morale victory is always better when it’s packaged with an actual victory.

The win sees the Fire pull to within three points of seventh and the last playoff spot. What seemed almost an impossibility just a few weeks back now looks attainable despite the number of teams ahead of them.

Chicago continues their hunt for the postseason midweek when they go on the road to take on the Portland Timbers.

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