Chicago Fire dig deep for crazy comeback: "Never, ever give up"


CHICAGO – Seven goals? Three penalties? A red card? A wind assist?

One game had all of those things, and it was Chicago Fire FC’s thrilling 4-3 win Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field against high-flying CF Montréal. Entering the game seeking their first win against an undefeated Montréal, Frank Klopas’ group produced a remarkable comeback that provides much-needed momentum for the new-look Men in Red.

“It's one of those memorable games that will be hard to forget,” Klopas said. “It's a game that can change the season around for us.”

Wind-assisted comeback

Despite stumbling to a 2-0 deficit behind two Matías Cóccaro penalties in the opening 12 minutes, Chicago entered the break with something to cheer about as Maren Haile-Selassie snuck a shot past Jonathan Sirois in the eighth minute of first-half stoppage time. Nonetheless, a 70th-minute goal from substitute Dominic Iankov seemed to put things beyond all doubt for CFM.

But an 82nd-minute red card for ex-Fire wingback Raheem Edwards reduced Montréal to 10 men and gave the hosts a chance to claw within a goal on the ensuing penalty kick. Homegrown star Brian Gutiérrez converted from the spot and flipped the game on its head.

And as play entered the nine-minute stoppage-time period, the Fire’s star acquisitions entered the frame. Designated Player Hugo Cuypers did exactly what his team reportedly paid $12 million for him to do, getting on the end of a recycled corner kick to tie the game at three apiece. It was his first Fire goal, but his team wasn’t done yet.

Entering the 99th minute of play, goalkeeper Chris Brady played a pass to another new addition, Kellyn Acosta. The longtime US men’s national team midfielder tried to do what he’d been taught – put the ball into the mixer and hope something happens – but a gust of wind inadvertently redirected his service past Sirois and into the net, handing Acosta the latest game-winning goal in club history, and the Fire a 4-3 win.

“I was almost upset with myself, like I kind of blew an opportunity,” Acosta said. “Then I realized, this might have a chance, and then I saw the 'keeper take two steps.

"He came out, it went over his head, and the rest is history.”

Churchillian inspiration

For a Fire team that’s gained a reputation for squandering late leads, the 4-3 comeback is a welcome change. It’s the first time since 2009 they’ve come back to win from two goals down, and the result marks the first time in MLS history a team won after trailing by two or more goals into the 84th minute.

Finally getting a win on the board, and in such dramatic fashion, provides a positive moment for the Fire as they work to end a six-year Audi MLS Cup Playoffs drought.

“It's good to be on the other side of games like this, you know,” Klopas said, recalling the inspiration he provided his team at halftime. “I quoted Winston Churchill where he said ‘Never give up, never, ever, ever give up.’”

“There was a huge belief and the guys left everything on the field.”