The Lions put in another strong home showing, coming close on multiple occasions before Michel finally found the net in the 51st minute.
With a lengthy list of injured attackers, Tesho Akindele stepped up once again. In addition to creating several chances of his own, the Canadian forward played a crucial role in the breakthrough. Akindele took advantage of a moment of inattentiveness from Mauricio Pineda, taking the ball from the defender deep in Chicago territory before finding Michel, who buried a low drive into the bottom corner.
The goal was a long time coming for Orlando, who created the bulk of the first-half chances. Silvester van der Water struck the post in the 11th minute with a curling effort, while Akindele was dragged down on a breakaway that went to Video Review for a potential red card, but was ultimately not given.
Chicago mounted pressure on Orlando after conceding but were denied by a stellar Mason Stajduhar save. Filling in for the injured Pedro Gallese, the young ‘keeper put in a massive performance, making five saves on the night. Stajduhar withstood a stoppage-time onslaught from the Fire, called into action three times in the dying minutes.
Orlando held onto the 1-0 lead and moved into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference with the win. Meanwhile, Chicago dropped their seventh road match of the season, and have yet to win away from home in 2021.
- 51' - ORL - Benji Michel | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Once again, Chicago were undone by a poor giveaway out of the back. The Fire looked dangerous in possession and created plenty of chances, but conceded another preventable goal. Orlando, on the other hand, were opportunistic in the box and buoyed by a standout performance from goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar, who passed every test with flying colors.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Benji Michel's 51st-minute goal was the difference in a fairly open match. The homegrown attacker displayed composure with a calm finish to the bottom corner.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Mason Stajduhar consistently answered everything Chicago threw at him. The young shot-stopper commanded his box with maturity, and stood on his head in the final minutes of the match, fully extending to deny a Robert Beric curler that seemed destined for the top corner.