Chicago Fire FC have gotten their first win of their brand new era.
The Fire beat the Seattle Sounders 2-1 behind goals from Robert Beric and Homegrown defender Mauricio Pineda in their first game at the MLS is Back Tournament. The three points moves them to first place of Group B, while the Sounders have now failed to win either of their first two group games.
Beric opened the scoring in the 52nd minute. He took full advantage of a bouncing ball at midfield, shouldering off Xavier Arreaga and flashing some pace, a sweet touch with his backheel to evade Yeimar Gomez Andrade before calmly finishing past Stefan Frei. It was his second goal of the season. The Sounders didn't fold, though. Jordan Morris got to the byline and dragged back an inch-perfect pass to an onrushing Handwalla Bwana for the equalizer in the 77th minute.
In the end, Pineda came through with the game-winner on a corner kick in the 84th minute, finishing a bouncing ball at the back post.
Tuesday morning wasn't the first time this season Beric scored early in the second half to give the Fire a lead over Seattle this season. Beric scored on his debut in his side's season opener against the Sounders way back on March 1.
The match in Orlando represented a number of firsts for both sides: New Fire signings Boris Sekulic and Luka Stojanovic made their MLS debuts, while Sounders Homegrown winger Shandon Hopeau made his first MLS start.
- 52' – CHI – Robert Beric | WATCH
- 77' – SEA – Handwalla Bwana | WATCH
- 84' – CHI – Mauricio Pineda | WATCH
Man of the Match presented by Heineken
Even before his game-winning goal, Pineda was a standout player on the pitch.
After being one of the league's most pleasant surprises at the start of the season, he picked up right where he left off and more. He was solid in defense and even better in possession against the Sounders, picking up an assist on Beric's goal while consistently breaking lines with progressive passing. Then, for good measure, he went on to score his first professional goal.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Well, this cracks Group B wide open and puts a ton of pressure on the reigning MLS Cup champion Sounders to get a win in their final group game against the Vancouver Whitecaps. It also gives the Fire great momentum and confidence to advance out of the group stage and, in the process, pick up valuable regular season points.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Pineda got the game-winner, but Beric's opening goal was exactly why they made him a Designated Player this winter.
- YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: The Fire changed their formation from before the break, with a number of key players getting more and more integrated into the team. They swapped to a 5-3-2, with new DP Gaston Gimenez anchoring the midfield ahead of the three center backs and it allowed Beric and CJ Sapong to play as dual forwards.
- CHI: Sunday, July 19 vs. San Jose Earthquakes (8 pm ET | FS1, TUDN in US, TSN in Canada)
- SEA: Sunday, July 19 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (10:30 pm ET | FS1, TUDN in US, TSN in Canada)