The Chicago Fire, on the strength of a Tim Parker own goal via a Nemanja Nikolic shot, beat the New York Red Bulls 1-0 at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview on Saturday afternoon for its first win of 2019. Fire Designated Player Nicolas Gaitan made his MLS debut in the contest as a second-half substitute.
The Fire had some excellent chances to score in the first half, despite being dominated in possession. Aleksander Katai nearly scored on the match's first shot in the 18th minute, and had one other golden opportunity denied. In the 23rd minute, Przemyslaw Frankowski played in Nikolic for what could have been the 2017 MLS Golden Boot winner's first goal of 2019, but Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles made a deft stop to keep it scoreless.
Nikolic finally connected in the 48th minute, high-kicking a poor clearance and hitting the post; the ball then bounced off Parker and over the line for what would ultimately be the match's only goal. Though the Fire wouldn't get on the board again — even with a maurading run by Frankowski in the 75th minute leaving him one-on-one with Robles — Gaitan's appearance in the 63rd minute heartened Fire fans, and may ultimately be as much of a milestone for the squad's 2019 season as the first win.
- 48' – CHI – Tim Parker (OG) | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: For the Fire, it was a welcome first win after two losses and a draw to open the season. While finishing still appears to be a bit of an issue for the Fire, Gaitan is now added to an already-lively attacking force; he'll likely get this first start next weekend against a Toronto FC team that just added its own dynamic new player. For the Red Bulls, who managed only one on-target shot the entire match, it's a second straight loss after an away draw and home win to open the season. While that might be a pace allowing them to lurch into the playoffs, it certainly won't allow them to repeat as Supporters' Shield winners.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: While the goal was the obvious difference maker in the outcome, the fourth official hoisting up a sign with a green 20 on it midway through the second half was much anticipated.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Frankowski could have finished the day with a goal and an assist with better luck. Even though he didn't end up with either, his speed and vision pressured the Red Bulls defense, and his collision with Robles on the own-goal play effectively created Nikolic's opportunity.
- CHI: Saturday, April 6 at Toronto FC (3 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+, TSN4 in Canada)
- RBNY: Saturday, April 6 vs. Minnesota United FC (7 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+, DAZN in Canada)