A second-half penalty kick from Valentin Castellanos was enough to secure New York City FC an all-important 1-0 win over Chicago Fire FC at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Castellanos's 16th goal of the year means that with only two regular-season games remaining, NYCFC find themselves in pole position for an Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs home game, sitting at fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings with 47 points. Orlando City SC are even on points with NYC, but a 3-2 loss against the Columbus Crew Wednesday saw the Cityzens move ahead of Orlando via the number of wins (first tiebreaker).

NYCFC featured the same starting XI in back-to-back matches for the first time this season after the Cityzens thrashed D.C. United 6-0 in Week 32. The hosts controlled both possession and the tempo throughout the match, but they struggled in the final third. In total, NYCFC outshot Chicago 19-8 while boasting an XG of 1.8 compared to the Fire's 0.4. However, each side registered four shots on target.

Maxi Moralez thought he found the back of the net midway through the first half, but an offside flag was raised and Video Review confirmed the correct call had been made.

Keaton Parks ripped a shot from distance in the 49th minute that clattered off the crossbar, but a continued press from the hosts paid off just two minutes later. Malte Amundsen was brought down in the box by Federico Navarro, with referee Fotis Bazakos signaling for a penalty kick. In the 51st minute, Castellanos stepped up to the spot and found the back of the net with an opening goal.

Just minutes later, Castellanos nearly doubled the hosts' lead but 17-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina made a stunning save to deny him from close range and ensure a big three points for Ronny Deila's crew.

Goals

  • 51' - NYC - Valentin Castellanos (PK) | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: This was not the best performance from NYCFC, but three points are three points; they’ll take what they can get at this stage of the season. With two matches remaining, the Cityzens are now in a strong position to make the postseason and know that two wins would see them secure a home playoff game. For Chicago, it was a valiant effort and they held NYCFC to one goal, but a lack of attacking movement prevented them from playing spoiler.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Castellanos’ 51st-minute penalty kick. A vital three points for his side secured from the spot.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Valentin Castellanos. The NYCFC forward was a nuisance in the final third all night and scored the lone goal.

Next Up

  • NYC: Saturday, October 30 at Inter Miami | 1:30 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)
  • CHI: Sunday, November 7 at Columbus Crew | 3:30 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)