Heber converted a penalty he earned himself and New York City FC took at least a momentary lead atop the Eastern Conference table with a workmanlike 1-0 victory over Chicago Fire FC on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.
HIGHLIGHTS: New York City FC vs. Chicago Fire FC | May 22, 2022
With defending MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi winner Taty Castellanos serving a card-accumulation suspension, NYCFC outshot Chicago 15-10 overall and 5-1 in efforts on target, but rarely made Gaga Slonina make a difficult stop.
But Heber earned a spot kick midway through the first half when he won a header on the left side of the penalty area that then struck the arm of Fire defender Miguel Navarro.
Fotis Bazakos awarded the penalty following video review, and the Brazilian hammered his finish past Slonina to lift City a third consecutive win and seventh match without defeat. NYCFC also took a two-point lead on the Philadelphia Union before they played the Portland Timbers later Sunday night.
Chicago got their lone shot on goal in the 90th minute when Jhon Duran turned and fired a snapped shot easily saved by Sean Johnson. The Fire also had an earlier potential leveler from Kacper Przybylko correctly disallowed for offside while seeing their winless run extended to nine matches.
- THE BIG PICTURE: City will hope the apparent hamstring injury that forced midfielder Gabriel Pereira out of the match just before halftime was a minor one. Meanwhile, Chicago will took toward a schedule that softens up just a little over the next three matches as an opportunity to snap their winless run: away to Toronto FC, home to D.C. United and away to Houston Dynamo FC.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: It's not an exaggeration say Bozakos' Video Review was a game decider. Ultimately, he ruled in favor of the home side, though there wasn't an explanation that could convince Chicago manager Ezra Hendrickson.
PENALTY: Miguel Navarro, Chicago Fire FC - 22nd minute
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Santiago Rodriguez. The Uruguayan attacking midfielder put in a grueling 90-minute shift on a hot day in Queens, making up for some of the workrate typically brought by Castellanos. He finished with three key passes and also contested 14 duels, winning more than 64%.
- 23' - NYC - Heber (PK) | WATCH
- NYC: Wednesday, May 25 vs. New England Revolution | 7:30 pm ET (ESPN+) | U.S. Open Cup 5th Round
- CHI: Saturday, May 28 at Toronto FC | 7 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)