Back in their former home for one night, Robert Beric and Federico Navarro found the net after halftime to give Chicago their first win in six matches and leave NYCFC with back-to-back losses and winless in their last three. While they remained in fourth place in the East at the final whistle, Ronny Deila's side, not so long ago seen as a Supporters' Shield contender, now find themselves just two points above eighth place.
Chicago had the better of the first half, getting on the front foot and causing NYCFC some discomfort with their high press. But it was the visitors that came inches away from opening the scoring in the 23rd minute. From a pullback on the right by Anton Tinnerholm, Maxi Moralez scuffed his first-time shot, but saw it spin back off the post with Gabriel Slonina in the Fire goal beaten.
It wasn't long before the woodwork was rattling at the other end. Shortly before halftime, Beric's curling shot from the edge of the box, after a smart run inside, was denied by the crossbar. Then improbably just moments later, Jhon Espinoza repeated the trick, seeing his left-footed effort come back off the same bar with Sean Johnson unmoved.
That might have led a Fire team with just six wins all season to get despondent at their lack of fortune. Instead, Beric's first goal in six games and just his fourth on the season broke the deadlock. Alvaro Medran's quickly taken free kick put Beric in behind the defense and this time the Slovenian striker found the net with a low finish.
In the 66th minute, Chicago's lead was doubled. On the day he was called up by the US men's national team, Johnson will not be too keen to revisit a goal that, while admittedly coming off a deflection, saw him allow Federico Navarro's shot to squirm through his grasp.
NYCFC thought they had an immediate response to going two goals behind, but Santiago Rodriguez was ruled offside before heading into the net from close range following a flicked-on corner. And the raised offside flag would effectively spell the end of NYCFC's hopes of getting back into the contest.
- THE BIG PICTURE: While this result will likely do little to serve Chicago's wafer-thin playoff hopes, it could yet have a big impact on NYCFC's. In an incredibly tight race for spots three to seven in the East, an NYCFC team that just a couple of weeks ago looked a sure bet to host a playoff game now find themselves looking increasingly anxiously over their shoulders as the chasing pack closes in.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Federico Navarro's goal wasn't the prettiest, but it was the 21-year-old Argentine's first in professional soccer and, for a team with an unfortunate habit of giving up leads late, gave Chicago some much-needed breathing space.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Robert Beric. The big striker has not had a great season, but looked sharp all night and was rewarded with a goal and an assist.